AIFF to restructure Indian football-no ISL, I-league merger

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AIFF to restructure Indian football-no ISL, I-league merger

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Debarshee Mitra

05/18/2016

Ending speculation of a merger between India’s two top football leagues, the AIFF has virtually recognised ISL as the country’s top league on Tuesday night. The governing body aims to scrap the Nehru Cup, introduce 4 tiers of football, which they feel will benefit the national team eventually.

In a meeting attended by officials of AIFF, I-League, I-League 2, Football Sports Development Limited(FSDL), and ISL official broadcasters Star Sports, the issue of expanding the top tier(ISL) to 10-12 teams was also discussed, reported PTI. The report also said that the AIFF’s aim was to create a “sustainable ecosystem” for Indian football.

The Nehru Cup is set to be replaced by a multi-country international tournament, where the AIFF will invite nations ranked between 120 and 150 in the FIFA rankings. Also the Super Cup, currently played between winners of I-League and the Federation Cup, will be revamped and played across two months and it will include the best teams from each tier of Indian football.

In the meeting the AIFF and their marketing partners IMG-Reliance presented the new roadmap declaring ISL as the top league in the country, and will be followed by League 1(the I-League), League 2 and League 3, starting from November next year. With the proposed increase in teams, AIFF President Praful Patel believes that this will reduce the friction between the I-League and the ISL clubs.

For the sustenance of lower clubs, the AIFF also promised to put a central revenue system in place. The AIFF would also encourage more clubs to come up and are hoping for a team from every state by 2020.

The major goal, however, remains the improvement in the FIFA rankings of the men’s team, and the target has been set at 120 by December 2017. As for the women’s team the aim is to qualify for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

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