After months of uncertainty, the All India Football Federation on Wednesday finally decided to drop the proposal to build its state-of-the-art football academy in Goa due to delay in acquiring the land for the project.
The academy, funded by telecom giant Bharti and announced in January 2008, will now be shifted to Haryana, according to AIFF sources.
The academy ran into rough weather after two ministers in the Goa government — Minister for urban development, Joaquim Alemao, who is also the president of the Goa Football Association and housing board minister Micky Pacheco — locked horns over transferring the land to the AIFF. The war of words between the two led to the delay and eventually in scrapping the project.
When contacted, Alemao was scathing in his criticism of Pacheco. “He (Pacheko) is the man responsible for this. He kept the file in his drawer for the last one year and he even did not listen to the NCP leader’s (Praful Patel) instructions,” Alemao said.
“I’m shocked because this was a big opportunity for Goa. Who will spend Rs 100 crores,” Alemao added.
GFA secretary, Savio Messias, however, felt much of the blame lies with the AIFF too. “The GFA was never taken into confidence. If we were taken into confidence then we could have got the government and the locals more actively involved, Messias said before adding, “To put it plainly it was mishandled.”
“The land for the project was also not sought in a proper manner. The land belongs to housing authority and that comes under Micky’s (Pacheco) portfolio. But the file to acquire the land was moved to the sports ministry and obviously that did not go down well with Micky,” Messias said.
Messias also lamented the fact that this was the “first time that a football project has been opposed in Goa”.
“We are yet to receive any official confirmation but I have heard that it is not happening in Goa anymore,” said Sunil Bhardwaj, secretary, Haryana Football Association. “Anyway, we were always interested in the academy,” he said.