Blatter gets a rousing welcome in Kolkata

Updated: 15 April 2007 13:15 IST

Several thousand cheering soccer fans on Saturday received FIFA President Joseph Sepp Blatter who arrived in Kolkata on a four-day official visit.

Blatter gets a rousing welcome in Kolkata

Kolkata:

Several thousand cheering soccer fans on Saturday received FIFA President Joseph Sepp Blatter who arrived in Kolkata on a historic four-day official visit to India.

Blatter, who arrived at 8.55 pm local time by a special chartered flight from Zurich, was given a traditional Indian welcome at the airport as tastefully-dressed women blew conch shells, put tilak on his forehead and showered flower petals.

All-India Football Federation President Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who received the FIFA boss along with West Bengal Sports Minister Subhas Chakraborty and top AIFF officials, put a tri-colour uttariya around his neck.

The airport area presented a festive sight, with youths decked up in the trademark Bengali attire of dhoti and punjabi welcoming Blatter outside the terminal building.

Blatter is the first FIFA chief to come on an offical visit to india. Earlier, then FIFA president Joao Havelange had come to Delhi in 1982, but that was only a customary presence at the ninth Asian Games.

About five kilometers from the airport, Blatter was given a rousing reception at the Baguiati crossing by thousands of enthusiastic soccer buffs, despite the late night hour.

Blatter showed no signs of fatigue despite the long air travel and seemed to enjoy every minute of the function held on a football-shaped dias.

He waved at the crowd, who held aloft posters and banners welcoming him.

Emotional welcome

Acknowledging the sentiments of the crowd, Blatter described Kolkata as the 'city of football in India' and said he was touched by the emotional reception.

"It is with great emotion that I have been received in Kolkata - the city of football in India," he said.

"I thank Kolkata," he said, minutes after being presented a citation and mementos that included a gold-plated silver football on a flower vase, a pot of rasogollas and flowers.

Blatter was also presented a giant garland of 1400 roses.

Referring to Sunday's National Football League derby clash between East Bengal and Mohum Bagan at the Salt Lake stadium, Blatter said "we will meet at the football stadium."

He ended his short speech with his signature-tune slogan "football for all and all for football."

On Sunday - the Bengali New Year Day - Blatter would begin his tour with a visit to India's national soccer club Mohun Bagan, as also East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting clubs.

In the afternoon, he would watch the National Football League derby clash between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan where he would be felicitated.

After a meet-the-press at 7:30 pm local time, he would attend a banquet thrown in his honour by the AIFF in a five-star hotel at the heart of the city. A host of former Olympians and
Arjuna awardees would be present.

On Monday morning he would leave for Delhi.



Topics : Football
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