Away from all the choreographed glitz, the 15-match-old Indian Super League (ISL) and its franchise Chennaiyin FC have found themselves in a tricky situation with a dispute over a contract offered to one overseas player.
Last weekend Chennaiyin FC signed two new players as replacements for Swedish midfielder Pierre Jonas Folke Tillman and Spanish forward Eduardo Silva Lerma, who the club then said left the country due to 'technical reasons.'
Now, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has revealed that the bone of contention, at least in Tillman's case, was that he was not eligible to play for Chennaiyin FC as at the time of signing the deal, the player was already under contract with a different club - thought to be Sweden's Varbergs BoIS FC.
Soon after Tillman's departure, his agent Carl-Johan Fransen, through his parent firm AMA Sports Agency, had shot a letter to the Chennaiyin FC and the AIFF alleging that the club had ill treated Tillman during his stay in India.
It was learnt that the club had asked Tillman not to train with the first team upon realising that he was ineligible to play. "We have received a letter from his agent. We are consulting our legal team before we give an appropriate answer. However, what we can say is the agent clearly misguided us by stating he was a free agent. Since he was already under contract with a different club, the transfer was invalid," Kushal Das, the AIFF general-secretary said.
However, Das added that the AIFF would not pursue a legal battle with the agent. "It is up to Chennaiyin FC to decide if they want to go to the court." When contacted, the player's representative Fransen, who is a licensed agent under the Swedish Football Association, refused to comment.
FifPro, the international representative organisation for professional footballers, over an email, informed HT that it would not take a suo moto role in the dispute.
However, it could liaise with Tillman over the allegation of 'ill treatment'. "If he is a member of the Swedish players' union, we will advise him to contact the Indian players' union and refer to the Fifa Dispute Resolution chamber," Ivo Ouwehand of the FIFPro Legal Department said.
A similar problem reportedly stopped Romanian striker Adrian Mutu's transfer from Petrolul Ploiesti to FC Pune City. Apparently Mutu was contracted with Petrolul Ploiesti till September 26, way beyond the Fifa cutoff date of August 31 for a player to become a free agent.
Had the clubs followed the Transfer Matching System, such issues could have been averted.