Indian PM happy sponsors are backing football

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, present at the opening game of the 11th National Football League season played at the Ambedkar Stadium in the national capital, New Dehli, congratulated the All India Football Federation on its 70th anniversary and promotion of football. "We have a long tradition of playing football in India and in the past, we have done well in the Olympic and Asian Games. However, in recent years, a need has been felt to professionalise this important sport in India. In this connection, I am very happy that private sponsors have come forward to support the game. It is a positive trend that public interest and sponsorship are growing in sports other than cricket," he said, as quoted by ANI.

Recalling his visit to Brazil last year where he had raised the subject of football cooperation between the two countries, he said he hoped the football bodies of both countries "are following on this important matter".

He added: "I understand that the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, has proposed the idea of a special plan for India to raise its standard in the game. We should pool all our resources in this direction."