Brazil to help Indian football team

While Brazil is a football playing nation, India ranks a lowly 130th in the list put out by FIFA.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2006 11:50 IST

It finally required Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to come to the aid of Indian football.

After the prime minister raised the issue during his talks with Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil, the acknowledged football superpower, on Tuesday signed an agreement with India - as part of nine agreements and MoUs the two countries signed - that would formalise a scheme to train Indian footballers and coaches.

The agreement, as part of a broad cultural agreement, says, "The two countries will also cooperate in promoting exchanges in the field of football and training of Indian players and coaches."

That was enough for football lovers in the Indian delegation, including the media, to exult.

Just before landing in Brasilia, Manmohan Singh told accompanying media: "Brazil's credentials as a football power are well known. Priyaranjan Dasmunsi (All India Football Federation president) has asked me to raise this matter with the government of Brazil even though this does not happen to be a subject between two governments."

He said, if India were to organise the Asian Games and the Olympic Games, "we must improve our capabilities in our sports". This could be done by cooperation with other countries, including getting coaches from Brazil and Cuba, the other country he was visiting later this week.

Dasmunsi, who is also the Information and Broadcasting minister, had earlier talked to the Brazilian envoy in New Delhi to seek his help in getting coaches and training for Indian footballers.

While Brazil is a foremost football playing nation and the game is almost a religion in the country, India ranks a lowly 130th in the list put out by the world soccer body, FIFA, and the sport is in the doldrums in both standards and patronage. The national team recently got a drubbing from Saudi Arabia in their World Cup qualifying matches.

First Published: Sep 13, 2006 11:50 IST