Recently-crowned I-league champions Aizawl FC have threatened the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to face dire consequences if they are not made a part of the proposed merged league of the I-league and the Indian Super League (ISL).
In a post uploaded by the club’s official Twitter handle, Aizawl FC stated: “Aizawl FC has submitted its formal claim to continue in the top league even after proposed merger of the existing top league with ISL.”
Aizawl FC has submitted its formal claim to AIFF to continue in the top league... pic.twitter.com/Z43cHEV0OA— Aizawl Football Club (@AizawlFC) May 2, 2017
There’s also a picture that accompanies the text stating: “If no positive response if received from AIFF,the club will approach Central sports Minister,Prime Minister of India, and also President of AFC. If all these steps are failed,the Club will have no other choice but will resort to world wide protests, sitting demonstration near AFC/FIFA offices, picketing of AIFF Office,mass hunger strike/fast unto death protest.”
Aizawl FC became the first club from the northeast to lift the I-League crown earlier this week after they held on to a draw against Shillong Lajong to deny Mohun Bagan of the title by a point. However, they now face the sticky situation of perhaps being relegated to the second tier despite winning the title as AIFF and IMG_Reliance have been contemplating of having only one league in the country for quite some time now. Of the three I-League teams that they’ve decided to rope in in the merged league are Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
Earlier, it was learnt that Aizawl did not want to play the game against Shillong as they wanted neutral referees for the game. They sent a letter then, too, but to no avail. However, what’s worse in this scenario is that AIFF seems to have already sealed the fate of the champions.
“Look, even if Aizawl FC do not play in the country’s top league, it doesn’t mean that the road ends for them,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das was quoted as saying to DNA on Monday when asked about whether AIFF will give Aizawl an unlikely spot in the new league. “They can still play in the second division, and continue to grow their club there. We will show even the second division matches live on television, and not just the top league. So, Aizawl FC need not lose heart even if they are not part of the league.”
Well, if only Aizawl FC were happy to be televised and not play for pride. To have a champion team get relegated in the following season is something perhaps unthinkable across the world but not in India where the cash-rich ISL seems to be what the AIFF is only interested in. Aizawl had managed to win the tournament in only their second year at the top-tier but what seemed to have been a dream run, now might seem like just a dream when harsh reality hits them.