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I-League clubs approach FIFA to retain their status as country’s top league

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I-League clubs approach FIFA to retain their status as country’s top league

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SportsCafe Desk

07/23/2019

Six I-League clubs have written to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, as they had stated earlier, to keep the fight alive of keeping their status as India’s top tier league. The letter labelled ISL as just a commercial league with no history that did not deserve to be India’s senior-most league.

Six I-League clubs have been fighting relentlessly to maintain their reputation as the country’s premier league, with Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj leading the charge. The other clubs include Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Aizawl FC, Gokulam Kerala FC and East Bengal. A couple of days earlier, they had stated that they would write to both FIFA and the AFC before they file a complaint with the court in order to leave no stone unturned.

Currently, AFC recognizes I-League as the country’s top tier league but the AIFF could soon help change that as per it’s Master Rights Agreement with IMG-Reliance.

“Recent media reports and press statements from the AIFF itself have indicated that the AIFF is seeking to make the ISL, which came into existence in 2013, the senior-most league in the country, whereas I-League, that dates back to 2007 when it was launched as India’s first-ever professional football league is sought to be made into a second-tier and inferior league,” the clubs wrote in the letter, reported Scroll.in. 

Earlier, the AIFF President Praful Patel had stated in a meeting with the clubs that it would seek permission from AFC to keep both the leagues running simultaneously for the next two to three years until a proper format can be formulated to merge them. However, the ISL would still get the AFC Champions League qualification spot which the I-League has held for long.

“There is a sharp decline in the standard of Indian football. Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, including India, but this popularity has not been matched by necessary and good administration as far as the national body is concerned,” the letter further read.

The AIFF has previously had meetings with FIFA and AFC and formulated documents in regards to the future of Indian football. However, the same haven’t been provided to the I-League and the clubs have been excluded from executive meetings.

“The ISL is a purely commercial venture played by franchise-based clubs owned by the clubs. It has no relevance. More importantly, players invariably are in the 35-plus age bracket. Players who have no takers abroad are roped in, leading to a decline in the standard of Indian football.

"ISL is just like the IPL of football and so the question that arises is how can a purely commercial league be made into the senior-most league of the country which has no international recognition or standing,” the letter stated.

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