The upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup, to be held in the country next month, could lead to a massive interest in football if the event gets good exposure in the Indian media, said Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs. "Well a lot of things have to be right, (like) exposure on TVs. The reporting of the event has to be good and it has to capture the imagination," Giggs told reporters when asked what will be the impact of the FIFA U-17 World Cup on Indians.
"I know cricket is the number one sport, but also there are a lot of football fans in India. If the exposure is there and people sit down with the families and watch it, then it can have a massive effect," said the 43-year-old Welshman who had turned out for the glamour Premier League outfit for close to a quarter century until his total retirement from the game.
"In Euro (2016) my country, Wales, had never been to a major championship for 60 years and they got to the semi-final and the impact it had on Wales as a country was huge not only for the next couple of months, but actually a generation," he pointed out.
"So, you have a generation watching Wales in a major championship, exciting the whole family and you will remember that forever. So, if India get it right with the U-17 Championship, then it will last for a long time, which can only be good for football in India," the former player added.
Giggs is in the country to play in the second season of Premier Futsal where he leads the Krystal Mumbai Warriors with the first match of the season slated to be played tonight at the NSCI in Worli.
Giggs also believes that futsal can have the impact like T20 had on cricket in India as lesser number of players was required for the sport.
"I think it (futsal) is important because in India, speaking from my last visit, it is very hard to get full-size pitches. With futsal you don't need a lot of space and also you don't need a lot of players," he explained.
Giggs recalled how while speaking on futsal last year he made the reference to T20 cricket.
"Test cricket is the top level, but T20 took the sport on to a different audience, and futsal can do that because technically there is lot of difference. It is more accessible because you only need 10 players," he said.
Giggs conceded that in his playing day and as a coach for a brief while, futsal was not on his mind.
"Probably not (in mind) while I was playing and coaching but when I finished at Manchester United, there were various opportunities and I didn't want to just stop and wonder what I am going to do next, I had to plan for the next two or three months. When I finished I went to the Euro in France and did some TV work and the next thing was futsal.
"So actually it was quite on early in my retirement and futsal was a big part of that, I had never been to India before, I never played futsal. Like I had done all through my career it was challenging and it was something that was different and exciting," he added.
(With PTI Inputs)