National coach Bob Houghton on Wednesday said time has come for India to start building world class football stadium and then bid for 2022 World Cup if the country wants to lift the profile of the game, just like United States did after 1994.
Delivering a lecture on 'The benefits of hosting mega events' at the two-day India International Sports Summit in Mumbai, Houghton said India should take a cue from the US which rose to a football power after hosting the 1994 World Cup.
"In 2014, Brazil will host the World Cup and in 2018 England are the favourites. But 2022 could be a possibility if we could have enough of world class stadiums built in India, tap good players and improve infrastructure," he said.
Houghton said America's football profile changed once the country hosted the World Cup in 1994.
"USA, which was not a very big football playing country in 1994 was awarded the World Cup in very controversial circumstances. But after hosting the World Cup they made a plan to win the World Cup in 2010," said the experienced Englishman.
"In 1994, they hosted the World Cup and in 1996 they started their own league which culminated with David Beckham, the most widely known face in football, signed a deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy team. If we need to qualify for the World Cup, I genuinely believe that India should go the way that US went," he said.
"USA used the World Cup to popularise and spread football across the country. Now they are ranked 13th in the world and are the only team to have beaten world number one Spain in the last 12 months," he added.
Houghton, who took the reigns of the Indian national side in June 2006, said the country will take years to qualify for the World Cup if the football infrastructure is not improved.
"In my three and half years as coach the most frequently asked question was that when will India play in the World cup. I don't know when India will play in the World Cup. But I guarantee you given the current infrastructure in the country, India will never make it to the World Cup," he said.
"At present there is only one stadium in India matching international standards, in Chennai. Surprisingly there is no football playing club there. India will play the World Cup qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup there without home support," he rued.