The AIFF might have pushed them to the brink, but the I-League clubs are not ready to go down without a fight. Sporting Clube de Goa have lodged an official complaint with the FIFA and the AFC against the AIFF's plan to relegate the I-League to the 2nd tier of Indian football and promote the ISL.
Following in the footsteps of Mumbai FC, Sporting Clube de Goa have written to the FIFA questioning how the AIFF can promote the ISL as the top-division in Indian
According to a report published by the Goal.com, the Goan club have cited Article 9 from the FIFA's statute in their letter. The Article 9 states:
“A Club’s entitlement to take part in a domestic league championship shall depend principally on sporting merit. A Club shall qualify for a domestic league championship by remaining in a certain division or by being promoted or relegated to another at the end of a season.
“In addition to qualification on sporting merit, a Club’s participation in a domestic league championship may be subject to other criteria within the scope of the licensing procedure, whereby the emphasis is on sporting, infrastructural, administrative, legal and financial considerations. Licensing decisions must be able to be examined by the Member’s body of appeal.
“Altering the legal form or company structure of a Club to facilitate its qualification on sporting merit and/or its receipt of a licence for a domestic league championship, to the detriment of the integrity of a sports competition, is prohibited. This includes, for example, changing the headquarters, changing the name or transferring stake holdings between different Clubs. Prohibitive decisions must be able to be examined by the Member’s body of appeal.”
Earlier this year, the AIFF presented the new roadmap declaring ISL as the top league in the country, followed by League 1(the I-League), and League 2, starting from November next year. The teams in the top-tier will be protected from relegation, which means the I-League will never have a chance to be promoted to the top division, even if they win the league. Also, a total of 28 teams
Following the presentation of this new roadmap, Goan clubs Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar have announced their withdrawal from the I-League for the upcoming seasons, while a host of other clubs
Back in July, AIFF and IMG-Reliance also formed eight working groups—referees, national team, grassroots, competitions, club licensing, and a few more. These groups include members from the AIFF and its commercial partner IMG-Reliance. Sporting Clube de Goa have also questioned the authenticity of these groups, which is only acting as a gateway for more interference from IMG-Reliance.
Earlier, FIFA had responded to Mumbai FC's complaint saying they would take stock of the situation and consult the AIFF on this matter. It remains to be seen if the governing body decides to interfere in this matter or not.