FIFA to work with Bangladesh, Infantino tells PM

‘Football is at the heart of Bangladesh’

Sports Correspondent

18 October, 2019 12:00 AM printer

FIFA to work with Bangladesh, Infantino tells PM

Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino, left, hands over a jersey to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office in the capital on Thursday. Bangladesh Football Federation President Kazi Salahuddin, right was also present during the meeting. — PID PHOTO

Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino on Thursday stated that the global football controlling body will continue to support the growth and promotion of football in Bangladesh.

“We’ll continue our support and cooperation for the development of soccer in Bangladesh,” he said.

The FIFA president’s assurance came when he paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office here this morning.

After the meeting, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters.

Highly appreciating recent performance of Bangladesh football team, Infantino said Bangladesh’s soccer is improving remarkably at recent times.

The press secretary said Bangladesh-India World Cup Football qualifying match held in Kolkata on Tuesday came up for discussion.

The FIFA president said there are many things to learn from football, especially discipline.

He praised various steps of the Bangladesh government for development of soccer in the country.

Infantino suggested Bangladesh Football Federation to regularly maintain contact with the FIFA.

Pointing out that football is a popular game in the country, the prime minister recalled that her grandfather and father used to play soccer.

Sheikh Hasina said her brother Sheikh Kamal founded Bangladesh’s leading sporting club Abahani Krira Chakra.

Elaborating her government’s initiatives for development of sports and games in the country, the prime minister said steps have been taken to establish 492 mini stadiums across the country.

Sheikh Hasina said competitions are being arranged at the primary school level to create new players in the country.

“We’re encouraging the boys and girls in participating in popular games like football,” she said.

PM’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman, State Minister for Youth and Sports Zahid Ahsan Russel, BFF President Kazi Salahuddin, Senior Vice-President Abdus Salam Murshedy and Vice-President Kazi Nabil Ahmed were present at the meeting, among others.

Earlier, FIFA president Gianni Infantino arrived in Dhaka for his one-day goodwill visit. He was received by Bangladesh Football Federation higher-ups.

“It’s a pleasure to be in Bangladesh. This visit is very important for me. Bangladesh is the capital of world football right now and the reason in because the FIFA president is here! The Bangladesh football team’s performance has also been quite eye-catching,” Infantino said upon arrival.

“I thought I came to a country which knows something about football but not really into football because of the other sports that are part of the local culture. But what I find out is that, it’s actually a country that is not only playing football, are not only passionate about football but it is actually living football. Living football is the new slogan of Fifa,” said Infantino during a press-conference at a city hotel in Dhaka in the afternoon.

 “We will bring Fifa much closer with football in this part of the world because Bangladesh has 170m people living in this country and I don’t know how many millions abroad. You should be rightly proud for your country which has great culture, history and foods,” added the 49-year old Fifa boss.

Swiss-Italian Infantino added, “I’m hopeful and confident of what we can do. What we can do is mainly bring football to the children, bring it to the schools, clubs, bring it to the boys, girls and look at the smiles when they touch the ball when they play. Hope and smile - that’s what we can do and what we are working on.”

Infantino was accompanied by Fifa deputy secretary general Matthias Grafstrom, chief of communications Onofre Costa, director of members associations of Asia and Oceania Sanjeevan Balasingam and the Fifa supremo’s office manager Federico Ravinglione.

It was the fourth occasion of a Fifa boss visiting Bangladesh after Joao Havelange (1980-81) and Sepp Blatter (2006 and 2012).