All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel had made a bizarre announcement on his Twitter account on Wednesday. He tweeted
The appointment of singer-turned-BJP MP Babul Supriyo as vice-president of the Local Organising Committee (LoC) of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be hosted by India from October 6 raised a few eyebrows with many taking to the social media to voice their surprise.
@fni Saffronisation in football too!— Rahul Sengupta (@RahulSaneGupta) March 15, 2017
On Thursday, Indian football officials fumbled for an explanation behind the odd appointment.
With FIFA’s Chief Commercial Officer Philippe Le Floc’h in attendance during a media interaction here, held to announce Hero Motocorp as a ‘National Supporter’ of the U-17 World Cup, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das and tournament director of the LOC, Javier Ceppi struggled to provide a justification behind Supriyo’s induction.
“Babul Supriyo is a huge football fan. He has some great ideas on football,” Kushal Das said, when asked about the reason behind the appointment.
“He (Supriyo) would be part of the Board of Directors (of the LOC). When he comes for meetings, I am sure he will come up with certain ideas. I have discussed football with him several times, and I think he is extremely knowledgable and will be able to contribute a lot,” Das added.
Ceppi too seemed to be at a loss of words when asked if senior officials of the committee were consulted before Praful Patel made the announcement. “We followed the protocol,” he said.
When proded further, Ceppi added that it was a ‘consulted decision’, without offering any explanation.
India U-17 to face Mali in friendlies
AIFF announced that the India U-17 team will play two friendlies on April 6 and 9 against Mali U-17 as part of its preparation. It will be the first assignment for Portuguese coach Luis Norton de Matos, who recently took over from Nicolai Adam after the latter’s contract was terminated by AIFF following complaints from players about alleged physical abuse.
After the friendlies in Mumbai, the national team, currently training in Goa, will travel to Europe for an exposure trip. The team, according to the AIFF general secretary, will play matches with the Portuguese age group teams.