World body throws weight behind Premier Futsal

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New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) The Associacion Mundial de Futsal (AMF) has expressed support for the soon-to-be launched Premier Futsal, a franchisee-based five-a-side football league launched by Portugal legend Luis Figo in India.

The eight-city league which was launched by Figo in Mumbai earlier this week, is scheduled to be held from July 15-24. But the proposed tournament has run into trouble even before its start with both FIFA and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) voicing strong opposition.

The AIFF have also informed the sports ministry that the Futsal Association of India (FAI) is an unrecognised body and it is considering legal action against it.

“Both AMF and FAI are firmly behind Premier Futsal. I believe Premier Futsal will lead to development of talent at the grassroots level in the country and will boost the sport’s future in India,” AMF vice-president Namdev Shirgaonkar, who is also the founding president of the FAI said in a statement on Thursday.

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Premier Futsal executive director Balu Nayar asserted that all the required permissions have been obtained and the organisers are determined to stage a successful tournament.

“The management of Premier Futsal would like to state that we have the necessary sanctions and permissions from the international and Indian governing body to conduct the league in India,” Nayar said.

“We operate in partnership with the AMF, the international parent body for the sport as well as its Indian affiliate, the FIA. The primary area of partnership is in grassroots talent search, where we will be holding programs around India,” he added.

“An average of 2,500 participants from each of the eight catchment areas will be chosen to begin with, from which five will be selected to play for each of the teams. These Indian players will have the opportunity to play along with the best of global talent.”

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Premier Futsal is expected to bring together 56 players from 21 countries with each franchise comprising three international players, one international marquee player and one Indian player. Each squad would be made up of 12 players.

Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad and Goa are the eight cities and states which will have franchise outfits.

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