New Delhi: There was palpable tension among top players as well as prominent ISL and I-League clubs after the FIFA ban on Indian football due to ‘third party interference’. As per Article 13 of FIFA Statutes, the letter sent by FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura states that ‘AIFF representatives and club teams are therefore no longer entitled to take part in the international competition until the suspension is lifted’.
“This also means that neither the AIFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programmes, courses or training from FIFA and/or the AFC,” the letter further said.
While there is no imminent threat to the AFC Asian Cup participation by the senior men’s team in late 2023 or early 2024, some of the games slated for clubs and age-group national teams in the next few months could well be a tricky terrain.
Here’s how the FIFA ban may have a cascading effect on Indian football.
India’s men’s national team
The two friendly internationals against Vietnam (September 24) and Singapore (September 27) will stand cancelled if the ban is not revoked at the earliest. Some years ago, the Indian men’s team used to struggle to get quality games on FIFA international friendly dates. A lot of the blame lay at the doors of the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) administration.
Things did change slightly after Croatian head coach Igor Stimac pushed for more friendlies, something that his predecessors Stephen Constantine and Wim Koevermans lacked. The ban has brought the senior men’s team back to square one.
Gokulam women wait anxiously in Uzbekistan
Indian Women’s League champions Gokulam Kerala were set to open their campaign in the AFC Women’s Club Championship against home side Sogdiana-W in Qarshi in Uzbekistan August 23. The Kozhikode-based side is then set to face Bam Khatoon FC of Iran in their next round-robin match August 26.
While the Supreme Court has listed the matter for urgent hearing Wednesday, it will be an anxious wait for the team that touched down Tuesday in Tashkent.
Also read: AIFF still hopeful of conducting FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup
ATKMB’s September 7 AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semifinals under cloud
One of India’s most loved football clubs, ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB), were supposed to play their AFC Cup Inter Zonal semifinals September 7. However, a look at the AFC website shows that ATKMB’s name currently doesn’t feature among eight clubs in the play-offs.
India’s AFC U-20 Qualifiers in Iraq starts September 14
India, who won the U-20 SAFF Cup recently under tutelage of S Venkatesh in Bhubaneswar, are due to play the AFC U-20 Qualifiers in Iraq. India have been clubbed in a very tough group with hosts Iraq, Australia and Kuwait. The matches are slated for September 14 (Iraq), 16 (Australia) and 18 (Kuwait) respectively at the Iraqi city of Basra. However, if the ban continues, India will not be allowed to play the event.
Massive FIFA grants may stop
It is being learnt that FIFA has reportedly sanctioned grants to the tune of USD 3 million in last three years to the AIFF. This money is used by AIFF for development of grassroots football in the country. If the ban persists, annually, the AIFF stands to lose USD 500,000 in grants. However, an AIFF insider said that FIFA currently pays its member nations in kind – such as construction of astroturf, providing footballs, jerseys and other gears – and not in cash.
All this could stop.
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