The club had wrote a letter to the PMO to assist them in participating.

Despite appeals from the Government of India, FIFA and AFC have decided to uphold the ban on the unfortunate Gokulam Kerala. As a result, the Malabarians will not be participating in the upcoming AFC Women’s Club Championship.

The club was informed of the decision today by the sports ministry, which had held talks with FIFA/AFC. They will be returning to India in the next few days after being stranded in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

India’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had reached out in aid of Gokulam Kerala and ATK Mohun Bagan to compete in the AFC tournaments as scheduled. In a tweet sent out three days ago, the club had requested the urgent intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The tweet mentioned that the 23 women team players had already reached the venue, prompting the sports ministry for their immediate help.

Two-time IWL Champions

Gokulam Kerala women have been the best women’s football club in India over the past few years. The club lifted the Indian Women’s League trophy in 2019-20 and 2021-22. They dominated the field on both occasions. In the process, the team was helped by the displays of the highest goal-scorer in Nepali women’s football, Sabitra Bhandari and Cameroonian Elshaddai Acheampong.

Continental displays

Gokulam represented India in the 2020-21 AFC Women’s Club Championship, finishing the main tournament round in third place. They lost 1-2 to eventual champions Amman SC and 0-1 to Shahrdari Sirjan, before posting a 3-1 victory against Bunyodkor.

Due to the tight COVID-19 restrictions, the curtailed tournament kicked off without participation from the Eastern clubs. Achaempong was tied with three other players in the race for the golden boot.

The current edition of the AFC Women’s Club Championship (West Zone) will have only two teams. They are namely, Bam Khatoon and Sogdiana Women. Jordanian side Orthodox Club withdrew from the tournament.

The impact of the AIFF’s FIFA ban has already been felt through this heart-breaking turn of events. The human cost of the ban will take a huge toll on mainly the players, who were really looking forward to representing the nation once again.

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