New Delhi: The Federation of International Football Association's (FIFA) Regional Development office will be shifted from Colombo to India by next year, a top official said on Saturday.

The office will be opened in early 2012 so as to develop the quality of football in India from close quarters, FIFA Development Director, Thiery Regenass, told reporters after inspecting the Karnataka State Football Association stadium.

“This will make us work from close quarters and on regular basis,” he said. Regenass said the decision was not ‘against Colombo’, but V Manilal Fernando ceased to be FIFA Regional Development Officer after he assumed charge of a separate office.

Regenass said the office will cater to the requirements of all the 14 member associations of All India Football Federation (AIFF) to develop the game in the country.

“This shows the strategic importance that India has for FIFA and FIFA's attachment to develop football in India,” Regenass added.

Asked where the office will be located, he said the matter was under discussion but hoped to open it in New Delhi. “The Indian capital is a suitable location for setting up the Regional Development Office as All India Football Federation (AIFF) office is located there and the city has advantages of mobility," Renegass said.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said AIFF, with the help of FIFA, was focussing on developing uniform grassroots youth development programme.

"We are looking at setting up centres of excellence (academies) at various locations," he said.

AIFF was also trying to identify other places to set up academies and hoped to create an elite academy where top talents would be trained with good coaching facilities, Das said.

Replying to another query, FIFA Technical Director Jeen Michael Beneze said the international body was still identifying and evaluating places to set up academies.

Academies could come up at Sikkim, Kolkata, Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Goa or Chennai, he said.

Beneze expressed satisfaction over the progress made at the football stadium and said it was the best among over 100 countries he had visited for inspection.

(Agencies)