Indian football teams get clearance to compete at 2022 Asian Games
The Sports Ministry opted to loosen the current selection requirements, and the Indian men's and women's football teams are expected to compete at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Earlier, the IOA had refused to give them the go-ahead to compete in the Asian Games.
The All India Football Federation then requested the participation of both the men's and women's teams in the renowned competition from the Sports Ministry, while national senior squad head coach Igor Stimac also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi's help.
"Good news for Indian football lovers! Our national football teams, both Men’s and Women’s, are set to participate in the upcoming Asian Games," Sports Minister Anurag Thakur tweeted on Wednesday.
"The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, has decided to relax the rules to facilitate participation of both the teams, which were not qualifying as per the existing criterion.
"Keeping in mind their latest performances in the recent times, the Ministry decided to grant the relaxation. I am sure they will put their best foot forward in the Asian Games and make our country proud," he added.
Football has been a U-23 sport at the Asian Games since 2002, with a maximum of three players older than that age allowed per squad. After the Kings Cup in Thailand (September 7–10), Stimac was supposed to guide an Under-23 Indian team to the Asian Games from September 23 to October 8.