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PM Modi graces India's opening Under-17 World Cup match

Last updated on: October 06, 2017 21:04 IST

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets the players ahead of India's opening match against US. Photograph: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday graced Indian football's historic moment when he greeted players of both the teams ahead of India's opening FIFA U-17 World Cup match against USA, in New Delhi.

Modi, who arrived at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium after the first match of the day between Ghana and Colombia, went out from the VIP dais to the playing pitch and shook hands with players of both teams.

The Indian team made history by becoming the first football players from the country to play in a FIFA World Cup.

Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura, Asian Football Confederation president Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa and All India Football Federation chief Praful Patel accompanied him.

This is the first time that India is hosting a FIFA tournament.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and AIFF president Praful Patel during the opening ceremony. Photograph: PTI

The Prime Minister also honoured some of India's footballing legends, which include P K Banerjee (who came in a wheelchair), Syed Nayeemuddin, I M Vijayan, Bhaichuing Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri and Bembem Devi.

Modi presented all of them with a shawl and a momento.

Chuni Goswami's name was also mentioned but he did not attend the function.

Earlier, the government had planned to stage an opening ceremony before the kick-off but the world football governing body had expressed displeasure at the move.

The Prime Minister has been taking a lot of interest in the hosting of the U-17 World Cup and has been telling the countrymen in his radio programme about how this prestigious tournament can raise the profile of the sport in this country.

The central government has also spent more than Rs 120 crore for this showpiece event.

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