I-League clubs to approach FIFA and AFC before seeking court’s help as last resort
Six I-League clubs have decided to approach parent bodies AFC and FIFA to seek help regarding the current situation of Indian football before they move to court. The I-League clubs have been kept out of meetings by the AIFF and may also have to give up its AFC qualification spot to ISL.
Representatives of Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Aizawl FC, and Gokulam Kerala held a meeting in Goa on Tuesday where they reached upon the conclusion that the parent football bodies should be contacted before they approach the court. The clubs have already had various meetings with AIFF and sought Narendra Modi’s help for revolving the ongoing struggles between ISL and I-League that have shaken Indian football to the core.
In a meeting earlier this month with AIFF officials, President Praful Patel had stated that ‘status quo’ would be maintained and the ISL and I-League would be allowed to run simultaneously until proper plans can be formulated to merge the two leagues. However, the I-League clubs were denied access to executive meetings and have been kept out of the loop, causing them to take further action.
“We don’t trust AIFF at all. We have to address FIFA and AFC and if they don’t reply at all, then we will go to court. We are exhausting all our remedies. Because if we go to court, they will ask us ‘Have you gone to your parent body?’ So then we would have to go back. By this we are ticking all our boxes,” Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj told Scroll.in
The AIFF has already had meetings with FIFA and AFC delegates in the past and were offered a consolidated plan by the organizations on how to take Indian football forward. However, those documents have been kept a secret from the I-League and have caused huge controversy ever since.
“Two leagues running simultaneously was spoken about in 2017 but we have been hearing this every time. There has to be a proper roadmap without heading directionless. The promise was made before the U-17 World Cup in 2017 and that year was called the transition period. A unified league was supposed to begin from the 2019-20 season,” Churchill Brothers CEO Valanka Alemao told Scroll.in.
Moreover, the I-League clubs have been told the solitary qualification spot for the AFC Champions League will be awarded to the ISL champions instead of the I-League winners, as the case has been for more than a decade now. This has further incurred the wrath of the clubs who claim that such a move is illegal considering AFC and FIFA recognizes the I-League as India’s top-tier official league.
“They had conducted the stakeholders' meet. They had done research and met the I-League and ISL clubs. And till now the report is not revealed to us. We don’t even know what the calendar will be like. So it’s very fair to write to AFC and ask them,” Alemao added.