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AIFF has left football in a muddy puddle


Panaji: The disclosure of Master Rights Agreement (MRA) signed between AIFF and FSDL and the manner in which FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) recommendations on the roadmap for football in India have been overlooked does not bode well for football India.

On the one hand are six I-League clubs, a few in existence for years, and on the other is the AIFF on the clutches of FSDL which controls the Indian Super League (ISL) with ten clubs. The matter came in the open because according to the MRA, AIFF could no longer portray the ISL as tournament but needed to make it the top league of the country.

On one side is AIFF bound by the MRA and on the other are the I-League clubs stretching a hand out, hoping FIFA would notice it. And, money is the spoon with which the soup is being stirred.

The 54-page MRA signed between AIFF and FSDL is a document that neatly says, FSDL will dictate to AIFF. If it could have bought AIFF, it would have. It was the fear of FIFA that stopped the sell out. Anyway, dictating, in terms of the MRA, is slightly short of a buyout.

The MRA states what AIFF needs to do; what it needs to listen to FSDL; what will happen if it does not; and what it will get for toeing its line. The MRA is a give and take where AIFF literally gives everything and has no say in what it should be getting.

In short, whoever signed the MRA, signed AIFF away.

The second document is the recommendations prepared by a team from AFC and FIFA for AIFF on the roadmap for football in India. This document has its creation to the time when three teams from Goa – Dempo SC, Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa – withdrew from the I-League because the roadmap being presented when the ISL started was hazy. From the three teams that withdrew, Dempo SC had won the I-League five times.

Fortunately, around that time FIFA president Gianni Infiatino was on a visit to India and members of the media raised the issue during their interactions with him.

The AFC-FIFA recommended nine vital areas that AIFF needs to work on to develop football in India. The recommendations were handed over to AIFF on February 17, 2018 and it is only after six I-League clubs wrote to FIFA that they started becoming public.

In fact, the worm started coming out of the bag when FIFA wrote to AIFF and the AIFF is now claiming that it cannot implement FIFA recommendations. Before that it claimed in a press release it was doing just what the report had recommended.

The AIFF has been bending on FSDL’s financial clout. FIFA has money and in a position to give it with little strings attached. Money is essential. But there have been times football was at its peak with little money around and lot of passion.

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