Indian football roadmap: Breakaway tournament possible, IFA tells Fifa, AFC
Indian Football Association (IFA) has asked Fifa and AFC whether it is right for commercial partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to influence policy decisions.Updated: Sep 13, 2017 23:40 IST
Four months after he first spoke of a breakaway competition, should the interest of his affiliates not be protected, Utpal Ganguli, the general secretary of the Indian Football Association (IFA), repeated his statement. Only this time, he was talking to representatives of Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Ganguli also asked Fifa’s Nic Coward and Alex Phillips of the AFC whether it is right for commercial partners of a football federation to majorly influence policy decisions. Since Coward and Phillips are touring India to hear different points of view regarding how the football season in India should be, it is possible they didn’t reply but, speaking to Hindustan Times on Wednesday evening, Ganguli seemed to suggest that his was a rhetoric question.
“I also pointed out that the current commercial partners wouldn’t have come on board had football in India not been kept alive by clubs who have been there for over a century or, nearly 100 years as is the case with East Bengal. So should these clubs now be part of a bidding process to be part of a competition,” he said.
“If there has to be one league, it has to involve Mohun Bagan and East Bengal and, hopefully in the near future, Mohammedan Sporting. If it is not, the IFA can start thinking of a separate competition. I have told them that,” said Ganguli. At least once, on May 5, before a meeting of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to discuss the possibility of a competition with teams from the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League, Ganguli had said this.
Like then, no specifics were shared on Wednesday. To know whether that’s because the time is not right or the IFA is shooting from the lip to show Mohun Bagan and East Bengal that they are not walking alone, watch this space.
Having heard stakeholders across the country to hear suggestions about how the ISL and the I-League can be merged, Coward and Phillips will meet East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan, in that order, on Thursday. Unlike the meeting with the IFA, where association president and AIFF’s senior vice-president Subrata Dutta was also present, a representative of the commercial partners will be listening in to what India’s oldest clubs have to say about a future league that is supposed to be bigger and longer.