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Messi's match a boost for Indian football: Blatter

June 13, 2011 18:13 IST

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the international football friendly between Argentina and Venezuela to be played in Kolkata on September 2 was an indication that football's popularity was on the rise in this cricket-crazy country.

In a statement to Kolkata-based Celebrity Management Group who are organising the spectacle, Blatter said the match would surely boost football's popularity in the country.

As part of FIFA's development programme,  Messi and Co will clash against South American rivals Venezuela, two countries with a strong football tradition, in a rare match to be held in Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

"It's clear that FIFA's development work in this huge country is starting to bear fruit...Football is starting to occupy an increasingly important place in Indian society," Blatter wrote in the statement.

"I have no doubt that the match will go a long way towards boosting football's popularity in India even further," he said.

He further said that their vision of a programme launched 10 years ago had started paying dividends.

"The 'Goal Programme' was launched with the aim of improving football infrastructure worldwide on a large scale. Since then, more than 500 projects have been launched to the value of $262 million.

 "We have now entered a new era of football development, which combines infrastructure and projects, financial resources, technical knowledge and expertise...and can offer our 208 members comprehensive support of both a general and specific nature, covering the needs of a modern football association," he stated.

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