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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
World Cup: Why can't South Asia make the grade?
Few countries can escape the excitement of the run up to the 2002 World Cup.

Teams from Europe, South America, Australasia, East Asia, the Middle East and Africa are making their way to Japan and South Korea to represent their countries.

However, teams from South Asia have failed to qualify for the most popular sporting contest in the world.

In the past, FIFA has identified the region as a good area for investment in football and young footballers.

Professional football is growing in India, but despite the game's enormous popularity, South Asians have yet to make a breakthrough into world class football.

What can be done to raise the profile of the "beautiful game" in South Asia?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

It is nothing but money. David Beckham is paid more than my country's total football budget! I don't think football is a sport any more. It is absolutely business. Fortunately Cricket does not have big market in the west!
Fakhruzzaman, Bangladesh/UK

I feel it's all down to lack of interest in the game

I disagree that the issue is related to any economic prosperity. Some of the African teams are certainly poorer than India, yet have a presence at the tournament. I feel it's all down to lack of interest in the game. For some reason football holds no appeal for kids in Karachi, Mumbai or Dhaka.

I think the problem is NOT to do with the facilities. If anyone out there has played football, it's very simple to start a game anywhere. What the Indian public need is realisation of the game and an appetite, like they have for cricket. I think a good cost-effective way to introduce this is for second generation Indians living in places like the UK to promote football in the villages whilst they are over in India. All it will take is one football and several players!
Kalpesh Parmar, Australia

We do have a soccer culture in Eastern India but the quality needed to meet international standards requires a combination of effort, support and assurance.
Shubham Agnihotri, India

Cricket is in our blood

Akkas Ali, Bangladesh
Pursuing soccer in South Asia will be futile. Come on, cricket is in our blood and football will never come close to it.
Akkas Ali, Bangladesh

Does achieving international recognition in soccer mean anything to the public of South Asia? The popular game in South Asia is cricket. Hence all three countries have won the World Cup Championship, which was earlier dominated by Australia, England and the West Indies.
Srikanth Pradhan, USA

Football can be introduced in schools everywhere - wait for the results in 10-12 years.
George Caspary, USA

It may well be the case that South Asians don't have a taste for football

Brian Fitzpatrick, Northern Ireland
I cannot agree with your correspondents who argue in favour of excellent facilities and prosperity. The world class Brazilian footballers came from the most impoverished barrios of Rio and the other main cities of Brazil. They learned to play football in dusty streets in the shanty towns. Equally, in the case of South African rugby, the blacks who began to enter provincial teams (and the national team) emerged from deprived townships. I suspect that the question hinges on regional psychology. It may well be the case that South Asians don't have a taste for football.
Brian Fitzpatrick, Northern Ireland

In my opinion people there need investment and encouragement. There is lot of potential in youngsters. The only thing lacking is infrastructure.
Muhammad Murtuza Kazi, Pakistan

Football is not a sport. It is a religion that some countries follow with passion. We South Asians don't follow that religion. We have our own. It is called cricket.
Mahesh Srinivasan, Manchester, UK

Dramatic efforts must be taken to nurture talent

K. Singh, Chicago, USA
I feel that for South Asian teams to do well on the world circuit there must be a concerted effort to provide facilities for youngsters like good coaching, grassy fields etc. Programmes must be started in schools to get children interested in soccer at an early age. The domestic leagues should be more competitive and this can increase if sponsorship revenues increase. All in all I think dramatic efforts must be taken to nurture talent.
K. Singh, Chicago, USA

The way in which European and South American soccer clubs compete to exert their dominance in the game, South Asian countries need to compete against each other, and ultimately with European clubs, to gain acceptance in the world of soccer.
Ketheeswaran Pararajasingham, Sri-Lanka

One way to help would be to allow South Asian teams more global exposure. At the moment all they do is play in local leagues or against each other. Very little competition keeps standards low. It's ridiculous that Europe has so many spots in the World Cup when Asia has only a couple. Give us a chance to compete and we may just surprise you.
Andrew DaCosta, India

Only by economic prosperity. When 40% of the region's population is malnourished, you cannot expect them to be kicking a soccer ball for a living or for fun.
Vineet Joshi, India

Soccer is one such sport where achieving international recognition will take a long time. A new and positive approach to sport will need to be developed in South Asia before soccer becomes more important than watching the World Cup every four years.
Amit Prasad, India

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