New Delhi: France's 1998 World Cup winner Laurent Blanc says the primary goal of setting up the Paris Saint-Germain Academy in India is to develop youth football in the country and allow them to get a taste of the way the French play the sport.
The top French club, Paris Saint-Germain Academy, which is being coached by Blanc, will be opening its doors in Delhi NCR in July. They lost to Chelsea in the quarterfinals of this season's UEFA Champions League.
"Well, the goal of the academy is to get the people to know French football and try to develop youth football in India," Blanc told PTI during a teleconference.
The former Barcelona and Manchester United defender added, "But the academy more strongly has a social objective to allow the young players of India and may be, the kid in need to know social success through football and we are pretty sure that academy will bring such a thing forward."
The 48-year-old Blanc was the manager of the French national team until 2012, after replacing Raymond Domenech in the wake of the 2010 FIFA World Cup controversy in South Africa. He was also a part of the French team that triumphed in Euro 2000, two years after their historic World Cup win at home.
Talking further about PSG's interests in India, Blanc said, "India is a great country, great population, very strong youth population. So sports has to be present. Football is the most popular sports in the world. Therefore, I'm not really surprised that India decides to open up to football and that's why I'm really happy at the launch of PSG academy in India.
"I think it's a good thing for French football to open up to India and gain some interest in India and most importantly it's a very good thing for the youth of the country."
Asked about the 2010 fiasco in South Africa when the team revolted against the then coach Raymond Domenech, Blanc was surprised that the issue was still being talked about.
"I realise how important it is worldwide. People are talking about it years later. In my opinion, players shouldn't have done anything and continued with the World Cup. It was a very sad day for French football.
"I became the national coach after that and trust me, it was a difficult period. But they are working with a new generation of players and staff along with national team coach are putting everything in place to get the best result in the World Cup (in Brazil). Through good results people will slowly forget what happened in 2010."
With France set for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, Blanc said his heart will beat for the national team over the next couple of months.
"My heart will always beat for my club Paris Saint-Germain. But, once the World Cup starts my heart will beat for France. I will stand behind France. I love the national team. I have always been their biggest fan. So the next few months my heart will beat for both the teams."
And talking about France's chances in the mega event, he said, "Before every World Cup we talk about the chances of all the teams. But frankly speaking I expect South African teams to do well in the competition. However, there are other national teams who have more experience, more titles and have won more matches in the recent past and by those teams I mean Spain, Brazil, who of course are playing at home.
"We weren't the favourites in 1998. Nobody expected us to win. But we anyhow won it. So it's very important that everybody is well prepared."
Asked for his thoughts on why French league is not as popular as some other European leagues, he said the arrival of big players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who plays for PSG, will attract attention.
"Of course French League is not watched as much as other leagues like La Liga and EPL but PSG and Monaco and hopefully some other clubs will join in to attract some big players in the league so that it becomes attractive in lot more countries."