Indian football season: AFC asks AIFF to decide on format for the short-term
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Indian football season: AFC asks AIFF to decide on format for the short-term

Asian Football Confederation has asked the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to chalk a schedule that addresses all the concerns of I-League clubs and Indian Super League teams

football Updated: Jun 08, 2017 02:50 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Asian Football Confederation,All India Football Federation,I-League
The Asian Football Confederation members meet with AIFF, I-League and ISL representatives in Kuala Lumpur.(AIFF)

Apparently because someone had a plane to catch, no decision could be taken on the immediate future of the football season in India at the roundtable meeting of stakeholders organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Read | Mohun Bagan, East Bengal threaten Indian Super League disruption

But for the medium and long-term future, independent research would be commissioned so that a plan is in place after the U-17 World Cup this year.

For all the air miles used to get to Kuala Lumpur, an AFC media release stated that the format for the short-term would be decided by the AIFF. Mohun Bagan have already asked for that meeting to be held on June 12.

Should it be brought up at the AIFF executive committee’s meeting in Mumbai on Thursday, it is likely to be opposed, said an official of the federation over the phone from Mumbai.

Read | ISL expansion: What IMG-Reliance’s move means for AIFF and I-League

So, for now, the possibility of the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League being held simultaneously in 2017-18 stays alive much to the chagrin of some I-League clubs who had hoped this would be quashed on Wednesday.

“What is important is that Fifa and AFC have decided they would work on a proposed structure taking into account the contributions of different clubs and their history. They realise that India is at a stage of transition. So, rather they (representatives of Fifa and AFC) help decide how football should be structured in India than some random people,” an I-League club official told HT over the phone from Kuala Lumpur.

Read | Indian Super League expansion should not harm I-League: Bhaichung Bhutia

There was at least one Fifa representative at the meeting chaired by AFC general secretary Dato Windsor John. Conspicuous by their absence among the over 20 who attended, including representatives of the Union sports ministry, though were AIFF president Praful Patel and senior vice-president Subrata Dutta. Last March, Dutta was asked to find ways to merge the I-League and the ISL.

But how will the next season play out? “We have been experimenting for a few years and maybe we will again so, to me, that is of little or no consequence,” said the official. The official requested anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media on this.

“Before the meeting could take up what needs to be done this season, it had to break up because one of ‎the representatives from India had a flight to catch,” said another official, also over the phone from Kuala Lumpur.

According to the second official HT spoke to, no progress, therefore, could be made about whether the ISL winners would get an AFC Cup berth in 2019. ‎Whether Bengaluru FC take part in ISL4, should their bid be accepted, could hinge on that. But that official didn’t rule out the possibility of a restructured Federation Cup this term comprising teams from ISL and I-League with the winners getting an AFC Cup berth.

First Published: Jun 08, 2017 02:14 IST