The club have prepared for two months for the AFC Women’s Club Championship.
With the imposition of the FIFA ban, the entire football vertical of the country has been affected. Unless the ban is lifted, the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup can’t be hosted by India. Similarly, the champion clubs of India are not eligible to play in AFC competitions as well. The Gokulam Kerala women’s team have remained as the champions of the Indian Women’s League since 2019. Their recent success came in May, 2022. As a result, the club earned qualification for the AFC Women’s Club Championship.
The team had already flown to Uzbekistan for the matches slated between 23rd and 26th of August. However, due to FIFA’s ban on the AIFF, they are currently stranded in Tashkent. In a letter sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, the club has requested intervention from the office to enable Gokulam Kerala to compete in the event.
Club CEO addresses letter
The letter written by club CEO, Ashok Kumar, stated, “Our team reached Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from Kozhikode during the early hours of 16th of August 2022. On arrival, we heard through various media outlets that FIFA has banned AIFF (All India Football Federation) and the clubs are therefore no longer entitled to take part in the international competition until the suspension is lifted (Copy of the letter issued by FIFA, August 14, 2022, is attached.)”
Long preparations were made for the competition
The club had prepared for a long time in order to take part in the prestigious competition. The letter mentioned, “To take part in the prestigious AFC Women’s Club Championship, we trained for 60 days since June 18th and reached Tashkent on 16th August 2022. The Asian Football Confederation sent a letter to the All India Football Federation on 16th August, 2022 (Copy of the letter issued by AFC is attached) stating that our club is no longer eligible to take part in the AFC Women’s Club Competition 2022.”
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It added, “However, AIFF has not sent any mail or letter to our club anticipating that the ban will be lifted by FIFA within a couple of days. Our club’s women’s football team consisting of 23 players with an average age of 21 got grounded at Tashkent, with disappointment coupled with distress as our preparation both mentally and physically went awry.”
The request made
Gokulam Kerala are suffering a fate where there is no fault of the club. The letter requested the PMO, “In light of the above, we request PMOs good officers to intervene in this matter and make all efforts to revoke FIFA ban and include us back in the AFC Women’s Club Championship as the champion club of India.”
It also stated, “Our Prime Minister’s dream is to make India a super power and become No. 1 in the world. In a small way, our club is spearheading the efforts to bring women’s football in India by being the champion club of Indian since 2019. Such an unforeseen ban should not be detrimental to our efforts in making India proud to become the number one women’s football nation in Asia.”
A club official has informed that the other two teams participating in the event have already left for the venue, Qarshi, on Wednesday morning.