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AFC slams AIFF for poor standard

November 27, 2003 15:19 IST

The Asian Football Confederation has criticised the All India Football Federation for blaming cricket for India's poor showing in football, in which the nation is ranked 128 in the world.

"In India football authorities blame cricket for the lack of progress by the nation in football. We do not agree with this," AFC general secretary Peter Velappan said in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Velappan said the AFC has big development plans to promote the game in eight countries in the region, including China and India, the world's two most populous countries.

"Cricket is popular and good that many Indians are taking to the game. But there are many who still play football and concerted efforts can produce 11 good footballers in a country of over a billion," Velappan said.

"The brilliant display by Japan and Korea in the 2002 World Cup has inspired us to undertake this development in Asia. We are hoping that ten years from now we should have at least eight Asian teams in the world's top 30 out of the over 200 countries that play the game," he said.

India's record in the world's most popular sport is pathetic and the nation, ranked 23rd in Asia, is yet to come anywhere near qualifying for the football World Cup.

The plans for Asia mark the centenary year of the FIFA and AFC turning 50 next year, Velappan told reporters.

"Though football has been in Asia for over 100 years like in Kolkata, India, officially AFC turns 50 next year," he said.

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