There was palpable tension among top players as well as prominent ISL and I-League clubs after the FIFA ban on Indian football due to “third party interference”.
As per Article 13 of FIFA Statutes, the letter sent by the world football governing body general secretary Fatma Samoura states that “AIFF representatives and club teams are therefore no longer entitled to take part in the international competition until the suspension is lifted.”
“This also means that neither the AIFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programmes, courses or training from FIFA and/or the AFC.”
While there is no imminent threat to the AFC Asian Cup participation by the senior men’s team in late 2023 or early 2024, some of the games slated for clubs and age-group national teams in the next few months could well be a tricky terrain.
Here are some of the upcoming assignments under threat:
India’s men’s national team
The two friendly internationals against Vietnam (September 24) and Singapore (September 27) will stand cancelled if the ban is not revoked at the earliest.
Some years ago, the Indian men’s team used to struggle to get quality games on FIFA international friendly dates, and a lot of the blame lay at the doors of the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) administration.
Things did change slightly after Croatian head coach Igor Stimac pushed for more friendlies, something that his predecessors Stephen Constantine and Wim Koevermans lacked. The ban has brought the senior team back to square one.
Gokulam women wait anxiously in Uzbekistan
Indian Women’s League champions Gokulam Kerala were set to open their campaign in the AFC Women’s Club Championship against home side Sogdiana-W in Qarshi, Uzbekistan on August 23.
The Kozhikode-based side is then set to face Bam Khatoon FC of Iran in its next round-robin match on August 26.
While the Supreme Court has listed the matter for urgent hearing on Wednesday, it will be an anxious wait for the team that touched down in Tashkent on Tuesday.
Gokulam Kerala had participated in the last edition of the continental pilot tournament last year and finished third in the four-team event.
Mohun Bagan’s Sept. 7 AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semi-finals under cloud
One of India’s most loved football clubs, ATK Mohun Bagan, were supposed to play its AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semi-finals on September 7, but a look at the AFC website will show that ATKMB’s name currently doesn’t feature among eight clubs in the play-offs.
The teams that are listed on the website are PSM Makassar, Kedah Darul Aman, Viettel FC, Kuala Lumpur City FC, Arabi SC, Al Seeb, East Riffa, Al Riffa.
Mohun Bagan played great football at the group league stage and their fans were eagerly waiting for the upcoming games at the continental level.
India’s AFC U-20 Qualifiers in Iraq starts Sept. 14
India, who won the U-20 SAFF Cup recently under tutelage of S Venkatesh, is due to play the AFC U-20 Qualifiers in Iraq.
India is clubbed in a very tough group with hosts Iraq, Australia and Kuwait.
The matches are slated for September 14 (Iraq), 16 (Australia) and 18 (Kuwait) respectively at the Iraqi city of Basra.
Could lose out on massive FIFA grants
It is being learnt that FIFA has reportedly sanctioned grants to the tune of USD 3 million in last three years.
This money is used by AIFF for development of grassroots football in the country. If the ban persists, annually, the AIFF stands to lose USD 500,000 in grants.
However, an AIFF insider said that FIFA currently pays its member nations in kind — such as construction of astro-turf, providing footballs, jerseys and other gears — and not in cash.
All this could be stopped.