The Indian football team will likely miss the Asian Games 2023 as the team did not match the Sports Ministry’s requirement of being placed among the top-8 teams in the continent. According to past statements from the sports ministry, India would only play in team sports if it ranks in the top eight of the competing countries, which is contrary to the situation with the Blue Tigers. It is possible that it will not compete in the Asian Games for the second consecutive year.
The Sports Ministry stated in a message that was issued to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and all of the National Sports Federations (NSFs),
“For team events, only those sports which have achieved a ranking up to eighth among participating countries of Asia in the last one year should be considered for participation in Asian Games”.
After the Kings Cup in Thailand (7–10 September), the All India Football Federation (AIFF) made arrangements for the national senior team’s head coach Igor Stimac to lead an Under-23 squad to the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, from 23 September to 8 October.
Football has been an under-23 sport at the Asian Games since 2002, with three individuals older than that age allowed on a squad.
India is not even close to making the top 8 in Asia. The Asian Football Confederation currently ranks it as the 18th best nation. The AIFF declared that it will ask the sports ministry to rethink its choice.
AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran informed PTI,
“This is a decision taken by the government. So, we have to abide by it. However, we will make an appeal to the government to reconsider the decision as far as football is concerned. The Indian team’s performance this year has been extremely encouraging. It will be a great boost for football, especially for the U-23 boys, if they get an opportunity to play in the Asian Games.”
Due to the Indian football team’s lack of a top-8 Asian ranking, the IOA has declined to approve it for the 2018 Asian Games.
There is a clause in the directions the Sports Ministry provided to the IOA and NSFs that could offer some optimism to the Kalyan Chaubey-led AIFF.
The ministry letter explains,
“Where, in the opinion of the experts of specific sports disciplines, and that of Sports Authority of India, participation of individuals and teams in relaxation of the above criteria is recommended with justifiable reasons, the same will be considered in the Ministry for appropriate decision.”
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