India in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022?

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India’s football team at the Asian Games. Andrew Wildblood, executive director of IMG Reliance said India’s qualifying for the World Cup finals in 2022 was ‘not unrealistic.’
Football (as in soccer) and India haven’t been a great match despite the fact that the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa was widely followed here. IMG Reliance, a joint venture between international sports marketing company IMG Worldwide of the U.S. and Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries are trying to change all that.
The venture last week announced it had acquired all the commercial rights to football in India for the next 15 years. That encompasses all the national teams and all current and future professional leagues. The deal was worth around $140 million.
So if football goes nowhere in this country, you know where to look for the culprits.
Andrew Wildblood, executive director of IMG Reliance, said in a telephone interview yesterday evening that the strategy for the future of Indian football was being pursued on several fronts: the rapid improvement of infrastructure for the sport; improved performance of the national team; an “overhaul and re-launch of the professional game in India”; and organized talent scouting to identify promising Indians as early as possible.
Look also for an effort to do to football what the Indian Premier League, also backed by IMG, did for cricket. India “is a very immature sports and leisure marketplace other than cricket,” Mr. Wildblood said. He reckons there is plenty of room for another major sport here (in contrast, for instance, to the U.S. where there is major league baseball, football, basketball, and hockey.)
“Right now there’s only one dish on the menu,” he said, adding that India could sustain two or three new major spectator and fan sports.
“All of these things are going to take time,” Mr. Wildblood continued. “We won’t sprinkle magic dust on this next week and have India in the World Cup final.”
But he said major tournaments and ultimately playing in the FIFA World Cup are definitely part of the plan. How soon? Mr. Wildblood said India’s qualifying for the World Cup finals in Qatar in 2022 was “not unrealistic.”