Both the Indian Football Teams, Men and Women faced a major setback as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has decided not to send its senior teams to the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta.
Why can’t the Indian Football Teams participate in the Asian Games?
The IOA chose not to clear Indian Football Teams (men’s and women’s) since they have deemed them “incompetent” to win any medals.
In the last three years, Indian Football Teams have achieved a jump in FIFA Rankings from 173 to 97 (men’s team), and also qualified for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
AIFF ready to bear expenses of Indian Football Teams
In an official statement, the AIFF expressed its disappointment to IOA and has even offered to bear the expenses of the Football Teams to the Asian Games if permitted by the IOA.
Further in this regard, president of AIFF, Praful Patel, made a call to IOA chief Narinder Batra to explain the circumstances, and accordingly, letters were sent to Rajeev Mehta, Secretary General, IOA and Lalit Bhanot who happens to be the Chairman of the Preparation Committee, Asian Games.
However, disregarding all facts, the IOA chose to stick to its original stance of sending teams ranked between 1-8 to take part, thus turning a blind eye to Indian Football in the Continental Games.
An utterly helpless All India Football Federation said it is willing to send the national team to the Asian Games on its own cost while slamming the IOA for not having the “courtesy to officially intimate” them about its decision to not clear the side.
As per the Indian Olympic Association’s regulations, only those national teams which are ranked between 1-8 at the continental level, are cleared for the Games.
“I wrote a letter to the IOA explaining our disappointment and unhappiness of this decision without really consulting with us and trying to understand what is happening in football world. If expenses are an issue we are willing to pay for the team’s travel and stay,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said.
This was a day after the AIFF said the Narinder Batra-led body lacked “vision and competence”.
What next for AIFF and Indian Football Teams
Still wanting to cling on to hope, Das called it an “unfortunate” gathering of scribes at the Football House, on the outskirts of the capital.
“I would like to state and put on record certain facts – firstly we have got no official communication from the IOA about the team’s non-participation, it’s all been verbal.”
“I think it is strange that they did not follow the protocol or the courtesy to at least inform the federation, the basis on which the teams are not being not allowed to participate. No formal communication has ever come from them.”
“They just arbitrarily took the decision and did not give us a chance to explain.”
Asked about its next step, Das added, “We will make an official representation to the Sports Ministry, we have got a lot of support from the government and SAI (Sports Authority of India). We are hopeful that they would support us on this issue.”
This will be the first time since the 1994 Hiroshima edition that an Indian team is set to miss the football competition of the Asian Games, which is an U23 event with three over-age players being allowed.
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