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AIFF to bid for FIFA U-20 World Cup hosting rights, says Praful Patel

THE ALL INDIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION has decided to continue its efforts to give their current Under-17 batch an exposure to the highest level of football in the world.

In an event surrounding the upcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup to be held in this country next month, AIFF President Praful Patel announced that India will officially bid to host the FIFA Under-20 World Cup as well; the upcoming edition which is to be held in 2019.

This will ensure that many of the players in the current India U-17 team will be able to participate in the U-20 World Cup as well; along with players from the current India U-18 team that has registered some success in the international level as well.

AIFF officials have informally discussed the possibility of making a bid to host the U-20 World Cup for some time now. Many see hosting the U-20 WC as the logical next step to continue the stimulus of football growth in the country, as well as making the most out of the crores of investment that has been injected into U-17 World Cup host cities like Kolkata, Guwahati, Margao, Kochi, Mumbai and Delhi to upgrade the stadiums and surrounding footballing infrastructure.

To ensure that the current U-17 squad does not get depleted after their World Cup campaign ends, AIFF recently passed a mandate saying those players were not to seek agents to look for club contracts just yet. Today's announcement from AIFF shows the reasoning behind that decision. Aside from international tours, the boys will also be a part of the revived Indian Arrows team and take part in I-League, the top flight football league of India, alongside the biggest clubs in the country. This will be the first time playing senior club football for any of these boys.

This is the first time a junior football team representing the country has received this kind of attention and assistance from the Federation; with the ultimate goal clearly being to ensure that India brings up a senior national side competent enough to earn India a place in the FIFA World Cup within the coming decade.

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