Asian Football Confederation wants unified 18-team league in India | football | Hindustan Times
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Asian Football Confederation wants unified 18-team league in India

Asian Football Confederation is seeking individual meeting with stakeholders any time in August-September and wants to submit a plan to the AIFF by November.

football Updated: Jul 13, 2017 14:37 IST
The AFC wants a unified league for India’s domestic clubs soon.
The AFC wants a unified league for India’s domestic clubs soon. (AFP/Getty Images)

By November, which is also when the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League are scheduled to kick-off, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) wants to submit its proposal for India’s domestic league structure.

Should its plan be accepted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), there will be one league with 18 teams in the top tier and at least one division below it.

To that end, the AFC wants a delegation comprising its officials and from Fifa to visit India in August-September this year.

“The delegation would meet stakeholders individually for inputs. That means meetings with clubs in the ISL, I-League first and second divisions, the AIFF, its commercial partners, state football associations and representatives from the Union sports ministry,” said a stakeholder who is privy to the plan sent by Asia’s apex football body recently. The stakeholder requested anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

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Following those meetings, the AFC wants to hold further discussions or workshops at six under-17 World Cup venues during the competition that will be held in India from October 6-28.

An indication of how things have been set in motion regarding a unified league also came when an official from AFC attended the draw ceremony of the Fifa under-17 World Cup in Mumbai last Friday.

During his visit, the AFC official met representatives of the AIFF to discuss the plan. The official’s visit follows what the AFC had decided at a roundtable with representatives of football in India in Kuala Lumpur on June 7.

“The AFC hopes to have the plan ready for submission by November,” said the AIFF official.

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It is in the AFC’s interest that the two-league structure it has approved for 2017-18 be replaced by one league at the earliest because the precedent set in India could be cited by other member nations.

In May 2016, the AIFF had rolled out a proposal for a unified league pyramid with 10 teams in the top tier. Following rounds of futile discussions thereafter, AFC’s help was sought which led to the meeting in Kuala Lumpur where it was said that a plan would be in place after the colts’ World Cup.