FIFA President Gianni Infantino has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, congratulating India for successfully hosting the U-17 World Cup last month. The FIFA chief also expressed regret that he could not meet Modi, who graced the opening ceremony on October 6.
"The FIFA delegation has now returned to Zurich with a host of unforgettable memories and having made many warm-hearted new friendships during our stay in Kolkata for the final matches of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 and the FIFA Council Meeting," Infantino said in a letter to the PM.
"I would like to congratulate your government on its role in your country's successful hosting of FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 and express my gratitude towards Local Organising Committee, to your government, and to all those who worked so hard to organise this competition in the host cities of New Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Guwahati and Kolkata. They all contributed immensely to a wonderful and memorable event," he said in the letter.
The contents of the letter was made available by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in a release.
Infantino regretted that he could not attend the opening ceremony and meet Modi but mentioned that he'll look forward to meeting him in future to exchange ideas about "the approaches to developing football" in India.
"Unfortunately, much to my regret, I was not able to attend the opening ceremony of the competition and to meet you in person in New Delhi, due to other prior commitments," he said.
"I am however convinced we will have the opportunity to meet in the future to exchange ideas about the approaches to developing football in your country, as well as our visions on the important role that football plays in breaking down cultural and social barriers, making it a game accessible to everyone."
Infantino also praised the AIFF for its "remarkable work and efforts".
"I would like to praise the remarkable work and efforts of the AIFF to implement new plans for the development of our sport in your country, such as the Mission 11 Million and the construction of AIFF National Centre of Excellence in Kolkata. I would like to reiterate my thanks for your contribution towards supporting football development and promoting the values of our sport in your country," he said.
"I can assure you that our stay in your country has given me fresh determination to provide any assistance from FIFA and the international football community that could be helpful in the realisation of these developmental projects.
(With PTI Inputs)