Coach Igor Stimac seeks PM Modi's help to secure Asian Games participation
Even though the national football team did not match the selection requirements, India's head coach Igor Stimac requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assistance on Monday to allow them to compete in the next Asian Games.
A humble appeal and sincere request to Honourable Prime Minister Sri @narendramodi ji and Hon. Sports Minister @ianuragthakur, to kindly allow our football team to participate in the Asian games 🙏🏽— Igor Štimac (@stimac_igor) July 17, 2023
We will fight for our nation’s pride and the flag! 🇮🇳
Jai Hind!#IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/wxGMY4o5TN
According to plans made by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Stimac would send an Under-23 team to the Asian Games in Hangzhou, which would begin on September 23. The Indian football squad is expected to miss the continental competition since it does not match the Sports Ministry's requirement to be one of the top-8 teams.
"I wanted to bring to your immediate attention that our U-17 team from 2017, which also gave a great performance at the U-23 World Cup qualifiers and is one very talented team, is now being deprived from participating in the Asian games," Stimac wrote in a lengthy social media post.
Stimac also appealed to Anurag Thakur, the sports minister, in addition to Modi.
"This team really needs and deserves the participation. The reasons given are unjust and as India's national team coach, I felt it's important to immediately bring this matter to your and the Hon'ble Sports Minister Anurag Thakur's knowledge."
"So that you could intervene and help the team participate in the Asian Games." According to the Asian Football Confederation, India is presently rated 18th among all nations.
"As our own ministry is denying the participation on the context of ranking, whereas the fact is that our football team is better ranked than some of the other sports teams which have been allowed participation in the Asian games.
"Also history and statistics are testimony to the fact that football is one sport where a lower ranked team has a chance to beat the top ranked teams," the Croatian wrote.
The Sports Ministry has stated that "for team events, only those sports which have achieved a ranking up to eighth among participating countries of Asia in the last one year should be considered for participation in the Asian Games" in a letter sent to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and all of the National Sports Federations (NSFs).
Football has been a U-23 sport at the Asian Games since 2002, with three players older than that age allowed on a squad.
"India hosted the U-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017 and invested heavily in building a very fine new generation of players."
"You have always supported India's dream of playing in FIFA World Cup one day and I am certain that if we have your continuous support in the manner we have received till date, the day is not far when we will be at the global stage participating in the most prestigious tournaments."
"We as a national team have worked extremely hard in the last 4 years and managed some great results, proving that we can achieve more if we get the support from all stakeholders," he said in his request to the Prime Minister.
The Indian football team may have some chance thanks to a clause in the Sports Ministry's directives to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and NSFs.
“Where, in the opinion of the experts of specific sports disciplines, and that of Sports Authority of India, participation of individuals and teams in relaxation of the above criteria (top 8) is recommended with justifiable reasons, the same will be considered in the Ministry for appropriate decision," the ministry letter said.