Battling to protect their right of being the Premier Football League of India, six I-League clubs have requested FIFA president Gianni Infantino to probe All India Football Federation’s functioning and alleged that the national federation is being run by its commercial partners.
The clubs, in a letter to the FIFA President, have sought help to safeguard I-League’s status as India’s premier football league as the All-India Football Federation is adamant to relegate them to the lower rungs in favour of the Indian Super League.
Minerva Punjab, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Churchill Brothers, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala have written a joint letter to Infantino after the AIFF has resolved that the ISL teams will now compete for a slot in the prestigious AFC Champions League, an honour that so far remained with the I-League clubs.
“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’ letter to Infantino states. “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 clubs have also slammed the AIFF for a decline in the standard of the game in India. “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,” they wrote.
The AIFF in the Master Rights Agreement signed in 2010 has committed to the Football Sports Development Limited, an IMG Reliance subsidiary, that the ISL will be granted the status of India’s top division league. That simply amounts to committing a right to the ISL which originally and contractually belonged to the I-League.