A fresh controversy has erupted between the organisers of the Indian Super League and the coach of the Indian national football team.
Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) – the organisers of the Indian Super League have come out in objection to the post-match comments made by the Indian national football team gaffer, Igor Stimac, after the latter seemed “worried” over not having enough time with the players before their next 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Championships joint qualifier against Afghanistan.
The Croatian tactician, speaking after the disappointing draw against Bangladesh on Tuesday, had said that, “I am very worried about the November camp. We are going to try everything possible to find a way with ISL people as it does not look promising for us right now.”
Reacting to these comments, a senior official from the FSDL was quoted by IANS as saying, “Not just before the Bangladesh match, but even after the match, Stimac told selective media that he wants the fourth round of the ISL to be postponed so that he can have the players.”
“But what he isn’t mentioning is that in the month of August there was a meeting between FSDL, Abhishek and Stimac. And it was discussed and agreed upon that since the ISL schedule is out and a lot of planning goes into the whole process of organising games like broadcasting, booking of stadiums and lodging of players, it is not possible to give a longer break before the November games and FIFA rules will be followed.”
Apparently, there had already been a meeting that involved representatives of the FSDL, the national team head-coach Igor Stimac and national team director Abhishek Yadav, wherein it was decided that the players would be released early in October as due to the aforementioned complications, postponement of the fourth round of matches in November could not have been possible.
The senior FSDL official further went on to say that, “Even then, we reworked the schedule in such a way that our fourth round ends on November 10 and the fifth round starts on November 23. After all, nothing is more important for us than the national team. Also, as decided in the August meeting, we had pushed the clubs to release the players well in advance before the Bangladesh game.”
“This was done to give the Indian team management a longer run with the footballers in October to strategize for the qualifiers. The clubs also understood and released the players by October 3. And after all that, we get to hear such stuff from the coach at a pre-match presser.”
“The planning was done as per the understanding of the two parties. It is unfortunate that the coach decided to make such a statement in a pre-match press conference wherein the focus should have been on the game at hand,” the official added.
Perhaps what has caused this level of resentment within the FSDL is the fact that, despite all the planning with keeping the gaffer in the loop, it was wrong of him to speak on this matter in the media. Instead, it should have ideally been discussed amongst the parties involved.
It will be interesting to see how Stimac responds to these comments and whether he takes offence to his words being termed as “unprofessional” by the organisers of the ISL.