Mumbai. In a clear indication of how good the country was doing in football, India today featured in the list of top 50 nations with the best performing fans even though the national football team had earlier slipped one spot to end at 133th position. The ranking was released by FIFA, the international governing body of association football on Monday morning, becoming only the second sports body after ICC to recognize fans.
“It’s a great achievement and our efforts have been recognized. I use this opportunity to congratulate my colleagues and the football fans of India.” said Praful Patel, the President of All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Mr. Patel clarified that his association with IPL helped him build a strategy to put Indian football fans right among the best ones in the world. He argued that the success of IPL created the ground for football following among the Indian citizens.
“When a person living in Indore followed and supported a team called Bangalore Royal Challengers, he realized that he could as well follow and support a team called Ghana while living in India. The right attitude among the Indian masses was inculcated then and there.” argued Patel.
The AIFF President might not be way off the mark in claiming so as the rankings released by FIFA confirm that Indian fans had got the maximum points for supporting diverse number of teams during the past one year. Even though Indians scored pathetically low on rioting, threatening players, streaking, blowing vuvuzelas or showing their bare or colored skins, other factors helped them break into the big league.
“Apart from supporting diverse number of teams, Indian fans have also been ranked high on using social networking websites like facebook and twitter to discuss football.” informed Praful Patel, adding, “Again, use of twitter could be traced to our IPL strategy.”
AIFF is planning to award a bonus term to Mr. Patel for this success so that Indian fans score new highs under his leadership. But this step might meet resistance from the opposition BJP and Sports Minister M S Gill, who doesn’t favor long terms of sports bodies’ administrators.
“Mr. Patel should not take credit for something that was made possible by Shakira.” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, criticizing the AIFF President for misleading the nation.