Brazil's top clubs offer football alliance with India

When India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sit down together in New Delhi next month to advance the strategic dialogue between the two countries, their backroom boys will be working on an agenda that will uplift Indo-Brazilian ties into an enduring people-to-people partnership. Accompanying President Lula to India, although on a separate itinerary, will be a six-member national football delegation from Brazil, the only five-time champions in the FIFA World Cup. Led by Fabio Andre Koff, President of Clube dos 13, an umbrella organisation of Brazil’s top 20 football clubs, the delegation hopes to start discussions with the All India Football Federation to sign a bilateral cooperation agreement to enhance the standing of Indian football.

Koff told KP Nayar of The Telegraph that an eight-point agenda to be discussed with AIFF leaders will allow Indian football players to train at Brazilian professional football clubs and, “depending on the time of the year, could participate in official games of their teams at the Brazilian National Football Championship.” The agreement will provide for Indian coaches and assistant coaches to spend time with Brazilian professional football teams “in order to have a hands-on apprentice(ship) on the football techniques” in Brazil and to improve their coaching capabilities. In addition, football clinics will be held in India where Clube dos 13 experts will share their “expertise in coaching, refereeing, nutrition, sports science and club management”.

The proposed agreement has provisions for 10-12-year-old young Indians identified with football potential to go on learning trips to Brazil as part of a long-term plan to nurture the game in India. There are also plans for Brazilian clubs to participate in friendly football tournaments in India.

Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s ambassador in Brasilia, said the Brazilians were looking at the possibility of getting Indian corporate entities to sponsor Brazilian teams or tournaments to enhance bilateral awareness of each other. He said Koff and his delegation was expected to meet AIFF President Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and vice-president Praful Patel in New Delhi on 4 June. Joao Gilberto Vaz, Clube dos 13’s representative for the Asian Pacific region, said a parallel side to the proposed football cooperation with India consisted of plans to telecast Brazilian football matches in India.