By Samindra Kunti
July 23 – Six I-League clubs have written to FIFA president Gianni Infantino with a request for help to safeguard the league which they believe is under threat from the Indian Super League.
Minerva Punjab, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Churchill Brothers, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC expressed their concerns that they believe the ISL will become the top-tier competition in the future.
“Recent media reports and press statements from the AIFF itself have indicated that the AIFF is seeking to make the ISL, which came into existence in 2013, the senior most league in the country, whereas I-League, that dates back to 2007 when it was launched as India’s first-ever professional football league is sought to be made into a second tier and inferior league,” the clubs wrote in the letter.
“There is a sharp decline in the standard of Indian football. Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, including India, but this popularity has not been matched by necessary and good administration as far as the national body is concerned.”
The clubs demand that Infantino and FIFA investigate how the All India Football Federation, (AIFF) is run. I-League clubs have also written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inform India’s head of state about the crisis they are facing. The AIFF has long claimed they’d offer a solution to India’s bi-league system, but so far the Indian federation has done very little to resolve the schism.
Earlier this month AIFF president Praful Patel again delayed a decision on the country’s league structure, but assured the I-League clubs that their immediate future is secure. He said that he will approach the AFC to ensure that both leagues co-exist for another 2-3 years.
Now the I-league clubs have decided to try and kick the decision upstairs by bypassing the AFC and going straight to FIFA and their own government.
With FIFA showing an increasing appetite to run confederation business – Africa being the case in point with FIFA’s takeover of CAF – the I-League clubs may not be furthering their own cause in an Asian confederation that has fiercely defended their independence from FIFA’s attempts to establish control in the past.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1580286153labto1580286153ofdlr1580286153owedi1580286153sni@o1580286153fni1580286153