India have won the bid to host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2020, which is great news for football lovers in the country. India have been able to add another feather to their cap after successfully hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup (boys).
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel deserves praise for his achievements on the international stage for he has been able to put India on world football map.
But then, what about the state of the game, in his own backyard? It is in disarray.
The future of the ongoing Super Cup is in doubt after eight I-League clubs threatened to withdraw from the competition if the issues they raised in their letter are not discussed. A similar uncertainty prevails over the future of the I-League, according to recent media reports.
The first match between Minerva Punjab FC and Pune City FC, which was scheduled for 15 March, was called off as Minerva could not take the field.
Aizawl FC and NEROCA FC, too, decided to return home and forfeit their games on 16 March.
What is most disturbing is the silence on the part of the AIFF.
First, a letter sent to the AIFF president on 18 February, seeking a meeting to clear the air over the future, remained unanswered. Later, when the same clubs threatened to boycott the Super Cup, they were informed that no date could be fixed for a meeting since Patel was travelling.
“I think officials of clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan should say that you neither have any respect for us, nor have the time to meet us. Then, why do you think we should go and join you?” said Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj.
After Minerva failed to attend the customary pre-match press conference and the Match Coordination Meeting on 14 March before the Super Cup qualifying match on 15 March , the AIFF issued a statement saying “this is extremely disappointing, and a blatant disregard for the Federation”.
The statement also said: “In case of Minerva Punjab FC not taking the field tomorrow (March 15, 2019) in the opening match of the Qualifiers of the Hero Super Cup against FC Pune City slated to kick-off at 5pm at the Kalinga Stadium, the rules of the tournament will be invoked, and the matter forwarded to the relevant authority for further action and decision.”
It’s not just the fate of the Minerva Punjab-Pune City FC match that hangs in the balance; a similar cloud exists over Aizawl and NEROCA’s ties too.
Also hanging in the balance is the fate of the main draw of the Super Cup altogether, which is due to begin on 29 March.
Meanwhile, AIFF has asked Quess East Bengal club to confirm their participation by 18 March.
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