AFC chief says India's football development top priority

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Sydney, Nov 27 (UNI) Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed bin Hammam has vowed to continue to give full support to India's development in football through the Vision Asia Project.

''India is top priority for us (the AFC) and we will invest more in improving the game there,'' Bin Hammam told reporters here ahead of tomorrow's 2007 AFC Player of the Year award ceremony.

''Historically, India has strong football roots. Some of the oldest clubs and competitions are in India. Some clubs have a fan following of more than 20 million fans, in and outside India. That is an indicator to the popularity of the game,'' he said.

''The AFC is trying to introduce professionalism in football throughout Asia with Vision Asia,'' Bin Hammam added.

India is one of the seven pilot countries in the Vision Asia development project along with neighbours Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Oman, Vietnam and China.

Recently, an AFC Professional League Committee's Inspection team visited various cities in India, meeting with federation and club officials, touring training centres and stadia, and attending matches.

All India Football Federation's (AIFF) has also promised the AFC team to ensure that the criteria set for participation in the AFC Champions League will be met in due course.

AIFF have studied the German Bundesliga and followed guidance from FIFA and AFC in its endeavour to bring professionalism in Indian football.

India's revamped I-League kicked-off on November 24, with 10 teams in the top division and a minimum of 12 teams in the second.

UNI

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