India is set to finally find representation in a senior FIFA World Cup after a high-ranking official of FIFA's 2022 World Cup invited members of India's cricket World Cup winning teams of 1983 and 2011 to Qatar for the quadrennial event.
The CEO of 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar Nasser Al Khater said that the next edition of the quadrennial tournament is for all to celebrate and hence he wants the Indian cricketers to be present in Qatar in three years time. "It is safe to say that this world cup (in Qatar in 2022) is for all of us to celebrate. I think I have to say, we look forward to welcoming you there (in Qatar)," he said at an awards function in Mumbai.
Khater added that he did not earlier realise how popular a game cricket is in India and since members of the 1983 and 2011 cricket World Cup winning teams were present at the event, he went on to extend a special invitation to them.
"I did not realise how big cricket was in India, so I know that there are some members from the 1983 World Cup winning team, that beat the West Indies, are here (at the awards function), and there are members from the team that won the(cricket) World Cup in 2011. I extend you a special invitation to come and attend the football world cup in Qatar," Khater said.
India has won the 50-over format of the cricket World Cup twice with a gap of 28 years between the two historic triumphs. The first victory came under the leadership of Kapil Dev when minnows India overcame firm favourite West Indies in the final at the Lord's Cricket Ground on June 25, 1983. One of the most iconic moments in Indian cricket history is the subsequent scene of Kapil Dev holding aloft the World Cup (then Prudential Cup) on the balcony of Lord's.
India's second victory on April 2, 2011, was no less dramatic as MS Dhoni's men became the first host nation to win the cricket World Cup. This World Cup also gifted us with imagery for the ages as Dhoni hit Nuwan Kulasekara for a six over long on. For a split second after the ball left the bat – perhaps caught in the weight of the moment – Dhoni gave the shutterbugs an image that will live on forever.
India has hitherto participated in only one FIFA World Cup which was courtesy of being the host nation for its U-17 edition in 2017.