With the lack of clarity over the league structure in Indian football, the much-ignored issue of the status of the footballers came to the fore on Thursday with the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) requesting players not to sign with any club until the league structure was finalized.
The FPAI stance incidentally comes close on the heels of the report in Indian Express where Bengaluru FC took one more giant step towards being part of the Indian Super League on Thursday, after submitting an official bid on the last day to do so.
But fellow I-League clubs and Kolkata power houses – East Bengal and Mohun Bagan did not put in bids despite procuring bid documents last week. With deadline day 25th May well and truly over, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL ) merely said in a statement that ‘external validator Ernst & Young (EY) will go through the bids evaluation procedurals over the coming week’.
According to report in Times of India, In a message to all footballers, after consulting senior FPAI members, the players’ body said on Thursday: “We request all the Indian players not to sign a contract with any club or franchise until we have a clear picture about the league structure for the upcoming season.”
The AIFF has called for a meeting of all stakeholders in Indian football in Kuala Lumpur on June 7, to be held under the aegis of AFC to discuss the future of the leagues and the FPAI will put forward its terms as well. While the idea of a parallel league is being welcomed by the FPAI since if promises more employment for Indian footballers, the fear is that the ISL may announce a players’ draft ahead of their new season, thereby clearly inhibiting the players’ discretion in choosing a club.
“We have been regularly writing to the ISL for clarity on the issue, asking them their plans, but haven’t heard from them,” Siddharth Bhattacharya, manager, players liaison, FPAI told TOI, adding, “We wrote to them only as recently as last month but there was no reply.”