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AIFF wastes crores on weak teams, not sure of FIFA points

Lack of clarity over whether this month’s AIFF’s tri-nation tournament conforms to regulations raises doubts whether it would qualify for FIFA ranking points, while St Kitts and Nevis are fielding a weakened side in Mumbai.

football Updated: Aug 16, 2017 11:05 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
All India Football Federation,Federation International de Football Association,Indian football
The All India Football Federation is blowing money on a low-key international tournament that might not even get them FIFA points. (AIFF Photo)

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is splurging crores to host a three-nation tournament in Mumbai from August 19 to 24, but it appears it may not get any meaningful returns.(ISL: Kerala Blasters eye Berbatov)

St. Kitts and Nevis, ranked 125th in the world and being flown in at great expense, are set to send a second-string side. Hosts India are highest ranked among the three teams at 97 in the FIFA list while Mauritius are the weakest at 160.

The AIFF is reportedly spending around Rs 4 crore on the tournament, which India head coach Stephen Constantine has said will help the hosts prepare for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying away clash against Macau on Sept 5.

However, world football governing body FIFA has indicated there is a lack of clarity on whether the tournament will comply with regulations for teams to be eligible for ranking points.

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“It’s the duty of the member association in charge of the organisation to inform FIFA in advance about the competition while providing the respective match reports after it in accordance with the “Regulations Governing International Matches”,” a FIFA spokesperson conveyed to Hindustan Times in an e-mail.

Right procedure

As per regulations, a match between two teams requires the authorisation of the continental confederation at least 21 days in advance. “The member on whose territory the international “A” match is planned shall submit a final authorisation request containing all required member and confederation authorisations to FIFA at least 14 days before the earliest of the proposed dates for such match,” say the regulations.

The tournament was initially scheduled to be held in Chennai, but a shift in venue has reportedly taken the total cost to over Rs 3.70 crore.

“(The tournament is being held) for FIFA points since A teams are participating,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das claimed on Monday.

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The tournament was originally a four-team event but with a reduced field followed by a change in venue and confirmation of teams being done less than a fortnight before the start, there is uncertainty whether the matches will be eligible for FIFA ranking points.

“Once all requirements have been fulfilled, the matches can be considered for the sake of FIFA ranking,” the FIFA spokesperson added, while confirming that the competition has been ‘reported’ to the world body.

Young St. Kitts squad

The other headache will be a depleted St Kitts and Nevis squad.

Only seven players from the 21-member squad for the FIFA friendlies against Armenia and Georgia, which St Kitts and Nevis lost 5-0 and 3-0 respectively, are in the squad.

“I’m going to take this opportunity to truly provide individual opportunities for many young local players who have been fighting, truly asking for top opportunity in the national team,” St Kitts and Nevis head coach Jacques Passy said of his squad for the India tour, in a statement released by the St Kitts-Nevis Football Association (SKNFA) on August 9.

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At that point, the invitational tournament was planned as a four-nation event named ‘Champions Cup’. However, that didn’t materialise and it was turned into a three-nation event.

St. Kitts squad: Jamal Jeffers, Adolpus Bentos, Dennis Flemming, Clyde Mitcham, Thrizen Leader, Petrez Williams, Xavier French, Errol O’Loughlin, Joash Leader, Delano Hodge, Tiran Hanley, Kimaree Rogers, Gvaune Amory, Javaughn Brookes, Dionis Stephens, Evanceroy Barnes, Carlos Bertie, Vinceroy Nelson, Jayan Duncan, Kevin Benjamin, Zeleon Monton, Tahir Hanley, Yohannes Mitcham, Raheem Somersall.

First Published: Aug 16, 2017 09:14 IST