The AIFF General Secretary also asserted that the report can not be implemented ‘right now.’
The uncertainties and quandaries surrounding the present and future of the Indian football scene still remains as obscure as ever. On 25th July, football’s highest governing body FIFA sought updates from the AIFF regarding the roadmap it had suggested to the domestic governing body along with the AFC last year. In response, The All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das took to the press a dy later to clarify that many of those recommendations from the FIFA-AFC joint report are ‘not feasible’ as things currently stand.
After being assigned to the task by both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Nic Coward and Alex Phillips had prepared a report saying that it contained ‘a series of clear and concrete recommendations for further consideration’.
“There are many things in the AFC-FIFA roadmap which cannot be implemented right now. That is why we have been trying to slowly implement it,” Das said to The Hindu.
“We are looking at all possibilities to organize a unified league with a relegation system. But, there are issues – financial and organizational. It is no rocket science that we need money to save Indian football. We need investors in Indian football who can help sustain the financial aspect of conducting the game.”
After the AIFF openly backed ISL clubs and assured preferential treatment, six I-League clubs – Mohun Bagan A.C, East Bengal FC, Minerva Punjab FC, Churchill Brothers SC, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC wrote to FIFA following which the chief member association officer of FIFA, Joyce Cook wanted updates about the current situation from the AIFF.
“We would like to obtain an update on the current position of the AIFF as well as any additional information you may be able to provide on the present situation,” Cook wrote in a mail addressed to Das.
“The report’s objectives are among others, to provide the AIFF with external expertise and to support your federation and its stakeholders in establishing and implementing a widely-supported, robust medium to long-term strategy,” Cook said.
“As you know, the report is therefore a comprehensive review and professional proposal which also contains a series of clear and concrete recommendations for your further consideration,” she added.
Referring to a point in the report that dealt with the establishment of medium and long-term participation criteria, Das misunderstood their referring to stadium ownership/lease as an example of a medium-term requirement, he answered, “To say that the club should own their own stadium is not feasible for both I-League and ISL clubs. Therefore, we have to tell FIFA that this recommendation is not practical.’
The report had also asked for the formation of a ‘League Transition Commission’ to oversee the merger of the ISL and I League. The report stipulated that the panel comprise of ‘independent external members’ that would be appointed by FIFA and AFC.
“The AIFF and the people who are in the ecosystem are far more qualified to find that solution rather than getting people from outside. While setting up a commission is one of the requirements, you have to see what is the best solution going forward and we are absolutely in the process of finding that solution,” Das quipped when asked about why the panel hadn’t been formed 17 months since it was first suggested.
Das highlighted that the next step would be to hold discussions with FIFA, AFC and domestic stakeholders, but the question on whether the federation had a clear plan of action remained unanswered.