Special Correspondent

Indian officials disappointed

CHENNAI: The decision of the FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the chairman of the FFIA/AFC Tsunami Solidarity Fund and AFC president, Mohammed bin Hammam, to skip India during their current tour of this region must have come as a disappointment for football officials in the country.

Essentially, Blatter and Hammam had come in to see for themselves the progress of the projects set up in the post-tsunami phase and funded by FIFA and AFC.

Approximately $8.7 million had been sanctioned to fund construction projects in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand based on the projects each country had presented to the world body as part of the restoration work following the disaster in December 2004.

Means of therapy

The theme of the funding from the world body was to use sport as a means of therapy for children who have suffered the trauma and help people return to normality.

Clearly Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even Maldives have made enough strides in their endeavour to make the best use of the FIFA funds nearly $2.5 lakh to Bangladesh, over $10 lakh to Maldives and over $26 lakh to Sri Lanka towards general restoration of football fields, reconstruction of infrastructure and holding clinics.

As per status report (December 2005) put on the FIFA site, India had sought and received a grant of around $12,000 for distributing footballs in the affected region.

It is understood that another project estimated at $1 lakh for providing infrastructure in Car Nicobar islands, one of the worst affected areas in the tsunami disaster, was also on.

But there is clearly little information on the state of this project with the FIFA.

As per the itinerary, Blatter and Hammam first flew in to Dhaka on March 31, then the entourage moved over to Male and from there the plans are to visit Sri Lanka and Indonesia before rounding off the programme in Thailand on April 5.

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