India a 'passionate giant' of football - Infantino

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has described India as a "passionate giant" of football, and asked the AIFF to ensure that there is a steady growth of the sport in the country.

Speaking in his first visit to India since being elected president, Infantino said that he was impressed with the work done by the AIFF with regards to introducing youngsters to football.

"India has always been mentioned as the 'Sleeping Giant'. But from what I have seen here I am sure that India is now the passionate giant of football," he said.

"India are the world champions of passion. The work done by AIFF is impressive and it is not a coincidence that football is developing in India and the passion is growing year after year. Results won't be immediate but it will follow in coming years.

"India is a passionate giant because I have been seeing the graph of development. The Mission Eleven Million which the AIFF is working on to indulge the youth is commendable. The passion of the people, of the fans, of the players, of the youth and the people associated with football is heart-warming and makes the future bright."

Infantino added that his aim was to eventually make football the number one sport in the country.

"Football is already one of the top sports of India and it is the number one sport for the Indian youth. We aim to make it the number one sport in India for everybody. FIFA together with AIFF has to develop football in India and we need to make sure that there is a steady growth."

Meanwhile, AIFF President Praful Patel dubbed next year's FIFA U-17 World Cup - to be held in India - as a "milestone for Indian Football."

"The FIFA U-17 World Cup is a new chapter in the history of Indian Football and we need to make sure that it is one of the best FIFA Tournaments ever held in the World," he said.

"The passion for Football has the ability to take us forward from the U-17 World Cup and we need to capitalise on that."