Fifa president Sepp Blatter has set tongues wagging in the sub-continent claiming India could be the next favoured destination to host the World Cup 2026. Fifa, the governing body for world football, shocked everyone choosing Qatar to host the 2022 event.
But on Tuesday, Blatter dropped the biggest bombshell of them all. Speaking to a British newspaper, Blatter, known to put his foot in his mouth, said India's 1.2 billion people were not just a market for football but for the economy as well.
"If we have to identify new territories where football can be a better part of life, then definitely it is the subcontinent, India, where they have 1.2 billion people. India is a real power," said Blatter. Australia was also identified as an "obvious prospect". Blatter's comments, though, will have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Once the 2022 World Cup is played in Qatar, it is unlikely that the continent can host the next edition, as is Fifa's practice.
It is also unlikely that Blatter will be around as Fifa chief when the next round of voting takes place to select the World Cup hosts. India, currently ranked 142 in the world, has repeatedly struggled to make a mark on the international stage.
On Monday, India played its first Asian Cup match in 27 years and ended 0-4 losers against Australia. India were invited to take part in the 1950 Fifa World Cup in Brazil but reportedly pulled out after the organizers made it clear that they wouldn't be allowed to play bare-footed.