AIFF Speak Out On ISL and I-LEAGUE: The AIFF Executive Committee met on Tuesday, 9 July 2019 in the national capital to discuss various issues related to the ISL and I-League. For 5 years now, both ISL and I-League are being run side by side, instead of a single, bigger league. Over the years this has become a major tension point between the three parties. The meeting in New Delhi was held to resolve one of such issues. However it proved to be inconclusive.
The AIFF proposed to send a letter of request to the Asian Football Federation for allowing the two leagues to continue for another 3 years. Adding to the request the AIFF asked the Asian Football Federation to allot the ISL winners a spot in the AFC Champions League competition while giving the AFC Cup spot to the I-League winners. Until now, the I-League champions earned the ACL spot and the ISL Champions used to play in the AFC Cup.
The AIFF released a statement which said,“In light of the MRA as well as the fact that in the last 5 years the entire Indian national squad are mostly being signed/playing for the Indian Super League clubs, and the TV viewership and in stadia audience having grown far more substantially vis a vis the I-League, and the Indian Super League clubs complying with the entire AFC Club licensing criteria, including strong grassroots, and youth development programes which had also been certified by the Asian Football Confederation, the AIFF Executive Committee recommends to the Asian Football Confederation to positively consider their request.”
According to the rules, the ACL spot belongs to the top division league of a country while the winners of the knockout competition of a country get the AFC Cup spot. The I-League clubs have agreed to the two leagues running for another 3 years but have raised serious concerns over being deprived from ACL spot. They demand the ACL spot to remain with the I-league since it is in place for more than two decades now, a lot more than the ISL.
AIFF signed an agreement with IMG-Reliance (FSDL) which made them one of the principle stakeholders in Indian Football. This was highly criticised by many I-League clubs, media and fans who were disheartened to see the growing involvement of Private Corporation and money in Indian Football.
Recently AIFF has been accused of making decisions under the influence of FSDL. They are said to be pursuing the interest of FSDL rather than of Indian Football, like the decision made in Tuesday’s meeting.
Interest of all the stakeholders in Indian Football should be kept in mind while making such a crucial decision. Indian football is on the rise, therefore, it becomes very critical to make the right decisions at the right time.