In an effort to make the country's domestic football structure more broad-based, the AIFF on Saturday decided to change the format of Federation Cup from this season (2008-09).
The AIFF in its executive body meeting today decided to introduce qualifying rounds in the tournament in line with FA Cup of England while also making the main tournament a single-leg league format.
The format will give chance to new teams to take part in the tournament while providing equal representation from each zone.
The Qualifying Round will be played on zonal basis and involve non-I-League and Second Division I-League teams.
There will be five zones -- North, South, East, West and Northeast -- and the winners and runners up of each zone will join this year's 12 Second Division I-League sides in the 22-team preliminary round.
The 22 teams will be divided into four groups to play the preliminary round, which will be played in knock-out format, and the winners of each group will join the 12 I-League teams for the main tournament.
In the main round to be played on single-leg league basis, the 16 teams will be divided into four groups of four teams each and winners of each group will make it to the semifinals.
The AIFF also announced the 12 teams which will participate in the Second Division I-League this season.
The Executive Committee also congratulated national team captain Baichung Bhutia on being conferred the Padma Shri recently.