Kolkata: Former Olympian P K Banerjee has blamed the "casual Indian mindset" and lack of infrastructure is responsible for the poor standard of football in the country.
Citing the rise of football standards in Venezuela, who were lagging behind India in the FIFA rankings till circa 2000. the legendary footballer called for a comparative study of the two nations.
"It could be a good study in contrast between Venezuela`s rise from nowhere and India`s falling football standards," the Olympian said.
Venezuela, who currently hold 44th spot in the FIFA rankings, were languishing behind India (110) at 129th place after a poor show in 1998 World Cup qualifiers.
Banerjee attributed the South American nation`s success to their massive infrastructural overhaul.
"We are hosting such a big match but we don`t have proper infrastructure. You go and see the standard of grounds," the former footballer said while referring to the match between Argentina and Venezuela at Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Friday.
"Venezuela in contrast shot up in FIFA rankings after their massive infrastructural overhaul followed by a fine show in Copa America," he added.
Banerjee said the likes of Juan Arango, Giancarlo Maldonado and Jose Manuel Rey have taken the sport in their country to new heights.
The Padma Shri awardee called for a systemic overhaul and insisted that India prioritise athletics and gymnastics, "the mother of all sports".
"We must inculcate athletics and gymnastics at school-level. But unfortunately in our country sports is not given priority...It`s more education oriented," Banerjee rued.
"If we prioritise sport, all the disciplines, from football to hockey will benefit," he said.
Venezuela have improved by leaps and bounds and their fourth place finish at just-concluded Copa America talks volumes about their determination to rise in the ranks.
Banerjee said their revival started under coach Richard Paez and added the Latin American players have gained a lot from the European exposure.
"They are gaining a lot by sending players to European leagues, where as our people are more interested in cricket," he said.
Asked whether India will gain anything from the high profile fixture, Banerjee said it would if you make the youngsters watch the match.
"If I was the national coach, I would bring players from all age groups to the stadium and make them watch the likes of (Lionel) Messi and (Sergio) Aguero playing," the 71-year-old said.
"In our times, we used to take notes and observe the things minutely. Look at the Argentines and Venezuelans, they have come with a huge support staff, each assigned a particular role.”
"Right from their movements, their training styles... everything is being noted and corrected. That`s how you develop your game. We got to learn a lot from them. But I don`t think we take sport seriously enough," Banerjee signed off.