Kuala Lumpur, April 6: A new era begins in Indian football with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel being elected as a FIFA Executive Council member, incidentally becoming the first Indian ever to enter the elite panel of the game's global governing body.
The AIFF chief was one of the eight candidates vying for the spot in the election which was held on the sidelines of the the 29th AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Congress in the Malaysian capital.
A total of five candidates, including Patel, was elected in addition to the AFC president, and one female member for the term 2019-2013.
Honoured and humbled to be the first Indian to be elected as a member of the #FIFA Council.— Praful Patel (@praful_patel) April 6, 2019
In this new role and as the #AIFF President, I shall work to the best of my abilities to strengthen the game of #football worldwide and among #Asian countries.@IndianFootball @FIFAcom
"I'm extremely humbled. I express my gratitude to all the members of the AFC who felt me suitable for the post. The responsibility as a FIFA Council member is huge. I would not only be representing my own country, but the entire continent. Thank you all for your confidence for rapid progress of football in Asia," said Patel.
Patel was accompanied by AIFF general secretary Kushal Das and senior vice-president Subrata Datta.
"Mr. Patel's victory is a "landmark for Indian football". Congratulations to Mr. Patel. He fully deserves this honour. His leadership has taken Indian football to greater heights. Asian football will immensely benefit from his presence as a FIFA Council member," Datta told PTI news agency.
The AFC Electoral committee and the FIFA Review Committee conducted the eligibility review of the candidates.
Das said, "We at AIFF are extremely proud of him. This is a major development for India's football fraternity. Best wishes on his new endeavour."
Under Patel's leadership, AIFF has been awarded with the AFC's President Recognition award for grassroots at the AFC Annual Awards in 2014 in Manila, and was given an award for the AFC Best Developing Member Association at the in 2016.
I wish Indian Women's Football Team the very best for their second group stage match of the Olympic Qualifiers against #Nepal.— Praful Patel (@praful_patel) April 6, 2019
Fight hard and win big!@IndianFootball #BackTheBlue #ShePower #IndianFootball #INDNEP #football
The successful hosting of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup drew lavish praise from all quarters, and India have also won the bid to host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2020. The Indian Club Licensing system has also been dubbed as one of the best in Asia.
(With PTI inputs)