Santosh Trophy knockout stage to be held in Saudi Arabia next February

The Santosh Trophy.
The Santosh Trophy.

New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is planning to hold the knock-out stages of the Santosh Trophy National Championships in Saudi Aabia early next year.

AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey and Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with their Saudi Arabian counterparts to "study the possibility to stage the final stages of the Santosh Trophy" in the West Asian country in February 2023".

"The idea is to host the knock out phase of Santosh Trophy in select cities of Saudi to encourage State level players to dream big and also to connect large Indian community in Saudi with Indian football and create a win-win situation for both the Federations," the AIFF said in a release.

"The agreement comes as part of the efforts of SAFF and AIFF not only to enhance cooperation among key strategic partners in Asia, but also to offer the opportunity to consolidate stronger bonds through football and culture between the large Indian Communities based in Saudi Arabia and Indian football."

Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) President Yasser Al-Mishal and General Secretary Ibrahim Al Kassim signed the agreement from the side of the West Asian country. The agreement was signed at the Saudi Arabian city of Dammam.

"The agreement will allow a wide range of activations, including the provision of technological support, the organization and hosting of youth competitions for both men and women on a regular basis, as well as exchange of football and governance experts."

AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey said: It is a remarkable development for Indian football. Our aim is to create a new platform for Indian football and spread it among the Indian fans all across the world. My sincere thank to SAFF for their active cooperation in realising our goal.

AIFF General Secretary Shaji Prabhakaran said: It is an out of the box idea that I am sure will help Indian football to create a niche for itself among its loyal fans, who eagerly follow Indian football from wherever they are.

"Our aim is to take Indian football forward and explore all possibilities. This move, we are confident, will inspire players from across the nation to showcase their performance in front of bigger audience.

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