With the excitement around football as a sport increasing day by day, the question still remains as to when will Indians get to see their team on the biggest stage.
There was an unprecedented buzz in India during the recently concluded FIFA World Cup held in Qatar. Millions of football fans in India were delighted to see icon Lionel Messi lift the coveted trophy for Argentina. With the excitement around football as a sport increasing day by day, the question still remains as to when will Indians get to see their team on the biggest stage.
Subrata Dutta, former senior vice-president of All India Football Federation (AIFF) and one of the main men behind hosting the Under-17 World Cup in India, claims that India is still very far from participating in a FIFA World Cup. “I don’t see India taking part in a football World Cup in the next 50 years. The only way they can take part in the event is if they win hosting rights. Then, they will get an automatic entry,” Dutta told mid-day recently. FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently announced that the 2026 tournament could be increased to 48 (from 32), with 16 groups of three each and two from each group qualifying into the next round. When asked about India’s chances if such a thing happens, Dutta remarked: “If 48 teams are allowed in the next edition, in that case eight teams will be from Asia.
India’s best chance is to qualify as one of those eight teams. I still doubt that happening though.”
The reason for Dutta’s pessimism is the quality of the current Indian set up. “We don’t have high-ranked, world-class footballers. Can you name a few from the current team? Unfortunately, I don’t see even one. We have to accept that we are way behind in this regard,” Dutta signed off.