New Delhi: The government has always been committed to India hosting the 2017 Under-17 FIFA Football World Cup and was ready to grant tax exemption to the mega event as wanted by the world governing body of the game, Sports Secretary P K Deb said on Thursday.
The FIFA had asked the All India Football Federation and the government to provide guarantees on tax exemption, security, transport and accommodation of the players, officials and other international stakeholders connected with the holding of the mega event.
A draft prepared by the AIFF and routed through the Sports Ministry had been returned by the FIFA for lack of guarantee in some specific areas. Now another draft is being prepared by the AIFF "by tweaking" certain provisions in it and it will again be sent to the FIFA after the government approval.
It is learnt that the FIFA had wanted a blanked tax exemption on the holding of the event, as well as on the earnings of the various international stakeholders connected with it, including broadcasters and sponsors.
Deb said that all the exemptions wanted by the FIFA were provided in Indian laws but the world body will have to apply to the government to avail them.
"We are committed to India getting the rights to host the 2017 Under 17 FIFA World Cup and we will do whatever we can in that regard. We are committed to it," Deb said at the sidelines of 'Goal 2013' convention on the business of Indian football here.
"All the exemptions wanted by the FIFA are covered under Indian laws. But the FIFA will have to apply to the government for that. It is a matter of applying for the tax exemptions. The government is ready for the exemptions," he added.
AIFF President Praful Patel said that he will have consultations with the Sports and other Ministries regarding what the FIFA wanted and prepare a modified draft to be presented to the world body.
"I'm going to meet the Sports Minister and other ministers also. We have to make certain changes and represent it to the FIFA. I hope the government agrees to what is wanted by the FIFA. Otherwise this will be a lost chance for us to host the 2017 Under 17 World Cup," he said after delivering inaugural address to the convention.
"I had a meeting with FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and General Secretary in Switzerland recently and I had re-iterated India's commitment to hosting the event. The FIFA wants India to host the event to increase the profile of the game in the country," said Patel, who is also the Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
Deb said that the Ministry was yet to receive the new draft from the AIFF.
"We don't know what transpired between Praful Patel and the FIFA chief and we have not received any new draft or proposal from the AIFF. But from our side we will do whatever we can as we want India to host the U-17 World Cup," he said.
Deb also said the Ministry was waiting for an official communication from the International Olympic Committee on the proposed meeting among the IOA, IOC and the government representative to discuss the issue of IOA's suspension.
"We are waiting an official communication from the IOC. We are ready to meet the IOC officials at Lausanne or India wherever they say," the Sports Secretary said.
He also said that the Ministry has accepted the Athletics Federation of India's request to hold elections to its president, general secretary and treasurer in April along with its Annual General Body meeting.
The AFI in its Special General Body Meeting last month had deleted a contentious clause in its constitution regarding the elections to the president and general secretary and decided reconduct the polls before the end of this month on the directions of the Sports Ministry.
But later on the AFI had written to the Ministry requesting to allow to hold the elections in its AGM in April.
"We have no issues if they want to have the elections in April along with the AGM. We have accepted it. The important thing is that the AFI has deleted the contentious clause from its constitution," he said.
The Sports Secretary disclosed that the Ministry has decided to start an ambitious plan to set up one District Sports School in every district of the country to groom talented athletes.
"We are setting up a District Sports School at all the 628 districts of the country. We will select 100 students in each school through competition and provide them education and sports training simultaneously. They will have to be given proper diet and training through expert coaches. Football will be a must for all the children in the schools," he said.
"We have calculated that we would be spending around 1,25,000 rupees a year on each child. We will also provide each of them jobs when they become eligible after studies. It may be difficult to start these schools immediately in problem areas like the North East, Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir. But we will start this in the other more than 300 districts in the country," said Deb.
"So each year we will be training more than 60,000 school children and in 10 years there will be more than six lakh talents. Out of these huge talent pool we can pick the best to represent the country in international events, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympics. Our target is that in 10 years from now we can be among top 10 medal winners in the Olympics and among sports powers," he added.
Deb called on the corporate sector to back sports in a big way so that the spending in sports is increased to seven to eight per cent in the next 10 years.
"In all the top sporting countries in the world, the spending through sponsorship is seven to eight per cent of the GDP. But in India it is barely one per cent of the GDP. I called upon the corporate sector to increase the sponsorship so that in another 10 years the spending in sports reaches seven to eight per cent," he said.