Sunil Chhetri calls for increase in number of clubs to boost player employment

Saying a merger of the I-League and Indian Super League would be the ideal scenario for Indian football, Sunil Chhetri said increasing the number of clubs would help in generating more employment for footballers

football Updated: Jun 09, 2017 17:22 IST
Sunil Chhetri,Indian football,I-League
Sunil Chhetri feels increasing the number of teams, irrespective of whether I-League and ISL are merged or not, will mean more employment for footballers.(AFP/Getty Images)

A decision on the forthcoming football season in India could possibly be taken following a meeting between clubs and All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel in New Delhi on June 10, but Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri opined that increased number of teams, whether under a unified league or not, would mean more employment for footballers.

“If we have ten teams in a league and ten teams in another, it means that are 20 teams competing in the country. That means employment of so many players in the country,” said the Bengaluru FC front man speaking at the AIFF Awards.

The AIFF’s Special General Body Meeting (SGBM) was held in Mumbai on Thursday amid much speculation, but a consensus on the 2017-18 season could not be reached despite repeated efforts. It is possible that the leagues (I-League and Indian Super League) would run simultaneously. There is also talk of Federation Cup being cancelled.

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The SGBM that preceded the Executive Committee ratified the constitutional amendments approved at last December’s AGM. Among them was that the AIFF can now have a life president. That post is subservient to the AIFF president and the holder of that post won’t have voting rights. The life president can be part of the Executive Committee in consultative capacity but can attend Fifa and AFC meetings.

“Whether there is a simultaneous league or not, if there are more clubs that are running properly then there is higher employment in Indian football,” said the skipper looking back at transfer related problems faced by players while moving from the I-League to the Indian Super League.

Merger ‘ideal scenario’

Speaking about a possible unification of leagues, Chhetri reasserted that the unity would be the ideal scenario as it would enhance the level of competition and enable the younger generation.

“I have said repeatedly that more teams in one league is the ideal scenario. The increased number of teams playing in one league would be the best thing for Indian football and no one can argue against it,” he said.

“A unified league will create more competition. More players will get a chance, especially the youngsters. We want a structure that will produce 20 Udantas, 20 Gurpreets and 20 Jejes every year. We need to have league structure that will allow the younger generations to play,” added India’s highest goal scorer.

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He also stated that weekend fixtures would be ideal to all players.

The SBGM also saw the appointment of former India international Abhishek Yadav and Anjali Shah to the AIFF Executive Committee. Yadav has turned out for Mahindra United and Churchill Borthers while Shah was the Director at Premier Indian Football Academy (PIFA).

The AIFF Awards saw Indian forward Jeje Lalpekhlua awarded the 2016 Player of the Year while Sasmita Malik took home the 2016 Woman Player of the Year accolade.

First Published: Jun 09, 2017 01:44 IST