AIFF sacks Igor Stimac as India head coach after disappointing campaign in FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers | Football News - Hindustan Times

AIFF sacks Igor Stimac as India head coach after disappointing campaign in FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers

ByDhiman Sarkar, New Delhi
Jun 17, 2024 11:11 PM IST

Federation offers three months’ salary as severance pay. Stimac likely to respond through lawyer.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has sacked Igor Stimac who was in charge of the senior men’s team since 2019. An AIFF media release said following a meeting on Sunday, attended by technical committee head IM Vijayan, technical committee member Climax Lawrence, decorated internationals both, it was decided to remove Stimac, 56, with immediate effect after India had failed to make the third round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. That would have also assured automatic qualification to the 2027 Asian Cup as well. India have never made the third round and can still qualify for the 2027 finals.

India coach Igor Stimac reacts during a match(REUTERS)
India coach Igor Stimac reacts during a match(REUTERS)

“Noting the disappointing outcome of the Senior Men’s National Team’s (sic) FIFA World Cup 2026 qualification campaign, the members unanimously agreed that a new Head Coach (sic) would be best placed to take the team forward,” said the statement issued on Monday.

According to a federation official, Stimac has also been offered three months’ salary as compensation. Given that his contract is till June 2026, Stimac may not accept this. His salary is reportedly $30,000 per month and Stimac could want AIFF to pay the entire amount as per contract.

AIFF has said Stimac’s removal is in “national interest”, according to a federation official who has seen the letter. The letter also mentioned Stimac saying he would step down if India didn’t make the third round. Not authorised to talk to the media, the official did not want to be named.

Another federation official said Stimac had told AIFF that he would leave with no compensation if the federation’s officials too accepted their part in failing the national team and stepped down.

A sore point for Stimac, according to the official who mentioned AIFF’s compensation offer, has been terms of his support staff. The official said Stimac kept following up with AIFF to draw up contracts for team analyst, sports psychologist and manager as they had been agreed with Shaji Prabhakaran, the former AIFF secretary-general in September 2023. Prabhakaran was sacked last November.

Even last March, he was promised these would be sorted, the official said. Stimac is likely to respond through his lawyer, the official said.

Appointed in 2019 after Stephen Constantine stepped down after the Asian Cup finals, Stimac handed debuts to a number of young players and got India to adapt a possession-based style. A dismal Asian Cup campaign and failure to make the third round of the 2026 qualifiers ended a run that had promised more in 2022 and 2023 and had a 0-0 draw at Qatar in 2019.

In 2022, India qualified for the Asian Cup with an all-win record in the final round of the qualifiers. In 2023, India won three titles, including retaining the SAFF Championship, at home and a World Cup qualifier away, a first in over 20 years.

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