The newly planned Premier Futsal League received some great news today with Portuguese and Barca star Deco signing up as a marquee player. However, the league received some bad news as the AIFF considers action against the “unrecognized” league even as it plans a Futsal league of its own.
The Premier Futsal league generated incredible buzz when it roped in Virat Kohli and AR Rahman to make the official anthem for the tournament that is slated to kick off on July 15th. The buzz has added a huge bit of footballing zing as well yesterday when it landed ex-Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco (Anderson Luís de Souza).
Deco & Figo
Deco has an illustrious club career with two Champions league titles, the first with FC Porto in 2004, where he was voted Man of the Match in the final, and the second with Barcelona in 2006. Deco also received the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award in that same season of 2003-04.
Speaking about the league, Deco was excited saying, "I'm really looking forward to playing in the inaugural season of Premier Futsal. I was born in Brazil and grew up playing Futsal on the streets. It's where I picked up the skills that laid the foundation for my success on the international stage and served me well throughout my career.
"So in a sense, I'm returning to my roots. I can't wait to see how I match up against seasoned futsallers who have dedicated their entire career to the shorter, more intense format of the game," reported PTI.
Deco was welcomed by Portugal teammate and Premier Futsal President Luis Figo. The 2000 Ballon d'Or winner said, "It gives me a great amount of joy to welcome Deco to Premier Futsal. We go back a long way, having shared the dressing room for Portugal during our playing careers.
"He has great talent, skill and ability as is evident from his storied international career which, I am confident, will add a whole lot to the quality of play in Premier Futsal's inaugural year," reported PTI.
It is understood that each franchise will have a marquee international football player, seven international and five Indian Futsallers who will be selected at a draft conducted later this month.
All is not well
However, the AIFF released a letter strongly worded against the Futsal league yesterday stating that they have not “sanctioned” the league.
"This is to bring to your notice that AIFF is not involved with the proposed Premier Futsal League, the news of launch of which has been making rounds in media in the recent past. The competition is neither sanctioned by AIFF nor is organised under the aegis of AIFF. Further, the organising body – Futsal Association of India (FAI) is not a member or affiliated in any way with, the AIFF, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) or FIFA," the letter stated.
The AIFF, keen to have a part of the new pie, has immediately come up with a plan to float a Futsal league of its own. "The AIFF is the governing body for all forms of football, including futsal, in India and we will be announcing our plans, in relation to futsal, in due course," read a letter from AIFF general secretary Kushal Das earlier this week.
In a country lagging on a sporting culture, the Futsal league is a welcome addition to the leagues that have come up of late across sports and have worked reasonable wonders, the IPL being a prime example of grooming new talent despite its evident flaws. However, the AIFF appears to not want to be left behind any activity that involves football and sizeable marketability. It would augur well for the sport in India if the regulatory body concerns itself currently with cleaning the Augean stables of the I-league-ISL fiasco that has left fans fuming at the apparent injustice of the three-tier system before it puts its hand in every cookie jar that comes along.