Why Igor Stimac’s ouster could put AIFF on backfoot | Football News - Hindustan Times

Why Igor Stimac’s ouster could put AIFF on backfoot

ByDhiman Sarkar, Kolkata
Jun 19, 2024 08:43 PM IST

Former federation official and executive committee member question the procedure of dismissal

Approval for Igor Stimac’s contract was given by the core committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with president Kalyan Chaubey kept in the loop, according to document accessed by HT.

India coach Igor Stimac(REUTERS)
India coach Igor Stimac(REUTERS)

Valid till June 2026, Stimac’s contract was terminated by AIFF on Monday with the offer of three months’ salary as compensation. Stimac has contested it and demanded compensation for the rest of the contract. If AIFF does not comply in 10 days from June 19, Stimac has said he will sue the federation at an appropriate FIFA platform.

On September 23 last year, an email from then deputy secretary-general M Satyanarayan to Chaubey informed the AIFF president of the core committee’s recommendations following its meeting earlier that day. “The CC (core committee) Members under chairmanship of Mr NA Harris have proposed to AIFF President the coach Igor Stimac could be offered a two-year contract with a monthly salary of $30,000…” Also marked on the mail was AIFF treasurer Kipa Ajay and then secretary-general Shaji Prabhakaran. HT has seen Satyanarayan’s email.

Formed by Chaubey in June 2023, the core committee was a powerful body headed by AIFF vice-president Harris to oversee administration along with Prabhakaran. The committee has since been disbanded. Prabhakaran was removed in November 2023. He has challenged the decision in court. Satyanarayan is AIFF’s acting secretary-general.

The core committee recommended two clauses to Chaubey. They were: Stimac should not speak to the media without prior permission from AIFF and should refrain from making adverse comments about the federation and its stakeholders.

Chaubey’s approval to go ahead was emailed to Prabhakaran and Ajay on September 24 morning, an AIFF official said on Wednesday.

The core committee had met after Prabhakaran wrote to it following a discussion with Stimac regarding his future as India men’s team head coach. After the fiasco of the 2023 Asian Games, where India struggled to put together a squad and travel arrangements were a mess, which Stimac has mentioned in his reply to AIFF on Tuesday, the coach might resign, Prabhakaran had written in his email. Chaubey is marked on this mail as well.

“If he does so then we will be in a crisis…We have to understand that players and largescale fans have great bond with him currently…,” Prabhakaran had written.

This was after India had won three tournaments at home, including the SAFF Championship which they retained. En route, India beat higher-ranked teams Lebanon and Kyrgyz Republic.

Stimac signed a new contract on October 5, 2023. It came into effect after the 2024 Asian Cup finals.

As per the contract, some of the clauses by which AIFF can sack Stimac without paying compensation are “repeated gross misconduct”, a “criminal case” against him and violent conduct. No compensation would also be paid if Stimac left, for which he would need to serve two months’ notice.

Procedure questioned

At least one present and one former AIFF official questioned the mode of dismissal. If the federation had found Stimac had violated terms of his contract, it should have served him a notice and given him a chance to respond, said the former official.

An executive committee member said “senior officials”, as per the AIFF media release on Monday, that removed Stimac is not recognised by the federation’s constitution. Harris chaired the meeting on Sunday which was attended by heads of competitions and finance committees along with technical committee chair IM Vijayan and member Climax Lawrence. Defending AIFF, a staff member said the president is empowered to form committees which can take decisions.

Following an executive committee meeting in Kolkata on June 6, it was agreed that decisions by any committee would need the approval of the AIFF executive committee, said the member who attended that meeting. “Even before the minutes of that executive meeting was circulated, AIFF sent Stimac a termination notice,” said the member.

Applications sought

On Wednesday, AIFF advertised for the position of the men’s and under-23 teams’ head coach. Candidates must have 10-15 years of experience as coach at elite, youth and senior level and must have at least a UEFA or AFC pro licence or their equivalent, the advertisement posted on the federation’s website said. “Experience as the first team coach (head coach) of the senior national team will be preferred with experience of coaching in the World Cup and continental championship qualifiers an advantage,” the post said.

The deadline for applications ends on July 3.

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