The latest capture of Brazilian football star, Hulk by a Chinese Super League outfit is a great way to show that even Asia can attract big names in the game. Football in China seems to be growing at a rapid pace with vast amounts of money being put into the teams, in the top football league in China. With big names such as Ramires, Martinez, Anelka and Drogba having already set foot in China, the popularity of the sport and the teams have increased rapidly in the country and outside too!
While the world seems to be celebrating the beautiful game of football, Indian football is in turmoil. Indian Football in recent years has turned into a mess which the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is desperately trying to fix.
All India Football Federation ‘Plan’
The biggest blow to the AIFF has got to be the result of the announcement of the merger of the top leagues in the country.
The plans made by the AIFF and its ‘media partners’, to make the Indian Super League the premier league and the formation of two lower leagues brought in a lot of criticism from football stakeholders from all parts of the country right from the East where two of India’s biggest teams Mohan Bagan and East Bengal ply their trade, to the West, where clubs like Salgaocar, Dempo and Sporting Clube de Goa were at the forefront in raising the level of the game in the country. The masses were not only mocking the plans made by the federation, but also challenging its viability.
A furious Peter Vaz, Chairman of Sporting Clube de Goa said, “People at the AIFF, have never even kicked a ball. What will they know of football? Their office bearers come and go. It’s we the clubs, the football who will stay on.”
The proposal included making the ISL a premier event, an automatic promotion stature with no scope for relegation. It included an expansion plan for two teams, based on their ability or willingness to pay a franchisee fee to the AIFF.
It also saw a formation of two lower leagues where most of the I- League teams will end up. It is a relegation of mass proportions where we might see clubs getting relegated to the second tier of Indian football even after putting up a credible show.
The Consequence on Goan Football
The merger saw many stories going around the country as to how the clubs will tackle this decision. The news of the merger hasn’t been digested easily by the Goan footballing giants, with Sporting Club de Goa and Salgaocar already announcing that they will not participating in next years I-League and Dempo’s decision hanging by a thread.
The fact that the AIFF involved its media partners in making this life changing decisions, questions the real vision of the AIFF. Whether the plans were made for the betterment of football or the betterment of their pockets only time will tell.
The fact that Mr. Shrinivas Dempo is the owner of Dempo FC, Co-owner of FC Goa and Vice- President of the All India Football Federation shows just about what’s wrong with the system. Mr. Dempo is all set to co-ordinate a meeting with the Goan Football clubs top officials as the Vice-President of the AIFF. On being questioned as to how he would divide his roles for the meeting, Mr. Dempo replied, “My roles are very clear. As the AIFF vice-president my role is very clear – to try and coordinate and to see whether the concerns of the clubs can be addressed, and the concerns of AIFF could be addressed. The other role is to see where my club is heading. Whether there’s a proper revenue model, whether there is sustainability for the club.”
It is ridiculous that a country like India cannot produce a team to compete at a major international tournament. We cannot blame the billion people that live in a country for performing badly in the sport, but the billions of dollars involved in the sport that are deviating the minds of people to find true purpose of football.