Jaipur:India skipper Bhaichung Bhutia rued that football in the country failed to take off despite the national team winning the Asian Games gold twice (1951 and 1962) and finishing fourth in 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
"Though we were a power in early 50s and won the Asian title and also finished fourth at Melbourne in the 1956 Olympics, Indian football failed to take off whereas Gulf countries and some of the Asian countries like Japan pumped in lot of money and did all possible things to reach where they are now," Bhutia, who was here for McDowell's Celebration Futsal Friendzy, said.
Bhutia said a lot could have been done for Indian football like developing infrastructure and facilities but he was on the defensive when asked about All India Football Federation's role in improving the condition of soccer in the country.
"I am not aware how much money FIFA is pumping in for India but whatever is coming is being utilised by AIFF. Still a lot money is needed. The kind which is in cricket is not here in football. The government, corporate sector and AIFF should all act in tandem to promote Indian football."
Bhutia said the triumphs in the Nehru Cup and the AFC Challenge Cup were positive signs but lot more needs to be done.
"These are positive signs but I feel a lot could have been done. With foreign clubs coming in and corporates coming in things will improve because it is a win-win situation for all," said Bhutia.
Talking about India coach Bob Houghton, Buhtia said, "Whenever a new man comes in he has his own ideas and own style. He too had his own but now everything has been sorted out. He has been very helpful and have asked for more facilities for the team."
When asked about Diego Maradona's forthcoming visit to Kolkata Bhutia said his presence would generate a lot of interest.
"I am not against his coming here. His visit would generate a lot of interest. My personal view was that such things would just help in diverting public interest for a short time.
"I have learnt that a match will also be held in Maradona's presence which will involve crores of rupees in expenses. I feel instead of spending this much money on such things it should be given to former Olympians and legendary players who are struggling to make ends meet," said the striker who felt Maradona may not prove a successful coach.
"Coaching is a different aspect. Good players may not prove to be a good coach. It needs skill but is more of a job which requires man management skills."
Regarding futsal, Bhutia said the game is catching up and could throw up talents.
"Futsal is catching up. It will help generate interest in football. Though initially stars who had retired were involved in it now it is providing a good opportunity for all young players.
"The talented ones can find their way into clubs. There is no question of futsal being a rival to the game. Both require same skill and there is less physical contact in this (futsal) form of the game," said Bhutia.