AFC president asks AIFF to come down hard on erring I-League clubs

Monday, September 13, 2010

NEW DELHI - Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammad Bin Hammam said Monday that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will not allow clubs to participate in next year’s I-League if they fail to adhere to AFC’s club licensing by Dec 31.

Hammam, who was here to chair the third meeting of the ad-hoc committee on Professionalising Indian Football, blamed the clubs for the sorry state of football in the country.

“Tough decisions will have to be taken by courageous people. The current administration in the AIFF doesn’t lack such kind of people,” said Hammam.

Hammam said that it is time for AIFF to come down hard on the clubs by taking some tough decisions

“AIFF is not the only stakeholder in India. It is just one of the stakeholders. It is doing a lot. The clubs are resisting to the AFC professional criteria. It is natural the clubs are resisting as they are not suitable to them. But they have to meet the club licensing criteria if they want to be in the professional league,” he said.

AIFF president Praful Patel said the clubs which will not meet the Pro-League licensing criteria will not be allowed to take part in the 2011-12 season.

“A team of AFC officials visit all the I-League clubs to review and audit for eight to 10 days. They will check each and every details to see whether the clubs fulfil AFC licensing criteria or not. After that a report will be submitted and the list of clubs which fulfilled the criteria will be issued in February 2011,” he said.

Patel, also a Union Civil Aviation minister, hoped that most of the clubs will fulfil the criteria. “If there is a problem it will be only a few,” he said.

Asked if the institutional clubs like Air India and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) may struggle to declare them as commercial body, Patel said: “This issue was discussed by the ad-hoc committee. There are some difficulties but I am being told that the clubs are looking on ways how to find a solution to this,” he said.

Hammam also concurred and said that said AFC has no objection to institutional clubs taking part in Asian Champions League if they declare them as separate commercial entities.

“We are not against institutional clubs registering for taking part in AFC Champions League if they form separate commercial entities,” he said.

Hammam said that not much improvement have been made since his visit in 2007 with FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

“Not much things since my visit in 2007. It is almost the same. India has a population of 1.2 billion and it is a vibrant economy. Asia has progressed far in football, but India is lagging far behind,” he said.

The Qatari, who is the third powerful football administrator in the world, feels that infrastructure is the biggest hindrance to the development of football in India. “Frankly speaking I don’t see much change in this aspect,” he said.

Hamam also reviewed FIFA’s project ‘Win in India with India’, which was launched by Blatter and Hammam in 2007.

Hammam was happy with the progress of laying of eight artificial turfs in the country.

Patel said that work had begun in Mumbai, Bangalore, Imphal and Gangtok.

“We have also selected four turfs, and we have inspected two places in Goa, one in Pune and one in Kolkata. All these turfs will have to be laid by in this financial year as the money for this project will have to spend till March 31, 2011,” he added.

Patel also said AIFF was also looking to build football stadiums in five cities.

“Karnataka government has given Rs.5 crore for the development of Bangalore football stadium. We are thinking of developing Mumbai’s Cooperage, which is now in embroiled in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and Ravindra Sarovar in Kolkata. We are also negotiating with the concerned governments to give them for long leases,” said Patel.

Patel also said that AIFF was looking for stadiums in Goa and Delhi.

“I have spoken with Delhi chief minister and she has assured that us that we can use one of the stadium for football after the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

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