Football mess in India after Super Cup saga

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New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) India have won the bid to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020, which is great news for football lovers in the country. India have been able to add another feather to their cap after successfully hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup (boys).

All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel deserves praise for his achievements on the international stage for he has been able to put India on world football map.

But then, what about the state of the game, in his own backyard? It is in disarray. The future of the ongoing Super Cup is in doubt after eight I-League clubs threatened to withdraw from the competition if the issues they raised in their letter are not discussed. A similar uncertainty prevails over the future of the I-League, according to recent media reports.

The first match between Minvera Punjab FC and Pune City FC, which was scheduled for March 15, was called off as Minerva could not take the field . Two more matches slated for March 16 are likely to go the same way as Aizawl FC and NEROCA FC have decided to return home.

What is most disturbing is the silence on the part of the AIFF.

First, it was the February 18 letter that was sent to AIFF president by eight I-League clubs asking for a meeting to clear the air over their future. The letter remained unanswered.

Later when the same clubs threatened to boycott the Super Cup, they were informed that since Patel was travelling, no date could be fixed for a meeting.

Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj had said, “I think officials of clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan should say that you neither have any respect for us, nor have the time to meet us. Then, why do you think we should go and join you?”

After Minerva failed to attend the customary pre-match press Conference and the Match Coordination Meeting on March 14 before the Super Cup qualifying match on March 15, the AIFF issued a statement saying “this is extremely disappointing, and a blatant disregard for the Federation.”

The statement also said: “In case of Minerva Punjab FC not taking the field tomorrow (March 15, 2019) in the opening match of the Qualifiers of the Hero Super Cup against FC Pune City slated to kick-off at 5pm at the Kalinga Stadium, the rules of the tournament will be invoked, and the matter forwarded to the relevant authority for further action and decision.”

While the fate of the Minerva Punjab FC-Pune City FC match has yet not been decided, it remains to be seen what action the AIFF takes if Aizawl FC and NEROCA FC follow Minerva, which they will do in all probability.

Along with this also hangs in the balance the fate of the Super Cup (Main) which is to begin from March 29.

Meanwhile, AIFF has asked Quess East Bengal club to confirm their participation by March 18.

(Jagannath Chatterjee can be contacted at [email protected])



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