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Does AIFF retain the right to claim sports ministry grants?

Jaydeep Basu

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The AIFF has withheld the prize money of all revolting I-League clubs, releasing only of champions Chennai City FC, but only after being served a reminder.

New Delhi: Sports minister Kiren Rijiju recently informed the Parliament about enhancing the funding of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for development of the game. The federation received Rs 23.08 crore in 2018-19. For 2019-20, the AIFF submitted a proposal of Rs 46 crore. Sources said it may have to settle for Rs 30 crore.

As a recognised national sports federation (NSF), the AIFF receives funding mainly under Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) from Sports Authority of India (SAI). It mostly spends the money for various national team’s preparatory camps, exposure tours and participation in international tournaments.

Under the current scenario, do the AIFF has the right to claim the money as NSF? Or should the government release the fund?

Now that the AIFF’s “strictly confidential” agreement with its marketing partners is on public domain, it is no secret the federation receives an amount of around Rs. 50 crore annually from a private organisation.

The agreement also makes it clear that in exchange, the football federation has agreed to hand over the rights of selecting clubs and shaping the rules of running of its national league to the same organisation.

As per the agreement, the federation have forfeited the right to decide if a new club show interest to enter the league or the league should have promotion or relegation.

The agreement also says nominees of marketing partners would be accommodated in its important sub-committees in technical, financial and regulatory matters.

It will be interesting to know whether AIFF, since signing the agreement in 2010, has informed the government in writing the details of its financial, administrative and technical deals with its marketing partners or on the grants it separately receives from FIFA and AFC.

True, the annual government grant of Rs. 30 crore is not enough to run football in India. Without sponsors, the game cannot progress beyond a certain level. But does it imply the national league of the country can be put on sale?

After all, the country’s national team is chiefly selected on the basis of its national league. The government spends substantially on national team’s training, exposure and participation in international tournaments.

One more disturbing fact came to light recently. The AIFF released the prize money of a particular club (I-League champions) despite financial constraints. Payment of prize money of all other teams were put on hold without assigning any reason.

Interestingly, most of the clubs denied payment are part of the group seeking “justice” for I-League. Lack of money could be the reason for selective payment but if clubs allege arm twisting and blackmailing, they cannot be dismissed easily.

Sadly, even the clubs who are flexing muscles about knocking the doors of the court of law are expected to mess up while raising the real issues. While some club officials are inexperienced, two Kolkata clubs are so deeply submerged in their own “tradition” that they don’t even notice when their houses go under water.

The issue before the clubs is not about ascent of ISL or the degradation of I-League. It is all about who should run Indian football? A public body recognised as an NSF or a private body formed solely for commercial purposes?

If the AIFF under Praful Patel is pursuing a policy of neo-liberalism, it should better explain. To set a trend where money is more important than performance is dangerous and totally defeats the purpose of competitive sport.

The ugly side of the beautiful game should not be allowed to raise its head.

Football Lounge

India suffer another big defeat in Intercontinental Cup

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India next play Syria in their last group league match on Tuesday.

Ahmedabad: India’s desperate attempt in the second half wasn’t enough as they went down 2-5 to DPR Korea in their second match of the Hero Intercontinental Cup at the EKA Arena.

With two losses in as many games, India still have a chance of making it to the final, provided they beat Syria by a huge margin in their next match, and hope Tajikistan beat DPR Korea in the other.

While Lallianzuala Chhangte, and Sunil Chhetri scored one each to reduce the margin for India, DPR Korea captain Jong Il Gwan was the star of the show scoring two, and assisting another. Furthermore, Sim Hyon Jin, and Ri Un Chol, and Ri Hyon Kin scored one apiece for the winners.

Indian national team head coach Igor Stimac said that there was “courage, and confidence on display in the second half.”

“In the second-half, we came out with out with heads up. We had the courage, and confidence when we decided to play football. In the first-half, we played without courage and self- confidence,” he stated in the post-match press conference.

“I gave the players the chance to play for India and asked them to enjoy their football. But if you do not show courage, and fight you cannot win,” he added.

“In the second-half, we started taking responsibility, and created chances. We were dangerous in front of their goal. But it was difficult to keep shape, and go up and down continuously. But I’m proud of the way they played,” the Coach explained.

Down 0-3 in the first half, a couple of changes by India Head Coach Igor Stimac at half-time brought back the thrust for India. The introduction of Lallianzuala Chhangte, and Udanta Singh in place of Manvir Singh, and Brandon Fernandes provided India the much-needed impetus.

The Blue Tigers pulled one back soon when Sunil Chhetri latched on to a stray ball, and played Chhangte through the channel. The latter, took control, and smashed it into the bottom corner. However, Ri Chol soon added a fourth for Korea, after being played through by captain Gwon.

In the 71st minute, Sunil Chhetri managed another one for India – his 71st International goal off a cross from Udanta.

India next play Syria in their last group league match on July 16.

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Barcelona sign Griezmann transfer from Atletico Madrid

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Barcelona: Barcelona have announced that they have signed French forward Antoine Griezmann on a five-season contract.

The announcement came after the player’s international representatives paid his 120-million-euro buyout clause included in his contract with Atletico Madrid at the LaLiga offices.

“FC Barcelona has paid the 120 million euro buyout clause to release Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid,” the Catalan club said in a statement on its website on Friday.

“The player will sign a contract with his new club for the next five seasons, through to 30 June 2024, with a buyout clause of 800 million euros.”

The 28-year-old could be unveiled to the media and fans during the weekend so that he can join the team for the first pre-season training session scheduled for July 15.

This is Barcelona’s third signing for the new season, following midfielder Frenkie de Jong on a move from Ajax and goalkeeper Neto who joined Barcelona from Valencia.

It came a year after Griezmann turned down an offer by Barcelona and his refusal was revealed in a controversial documentary produced by Barcelona’s Spain defender Gerard Pique.

He preferred to stay at Atletico and renew his contract with the capital team, an agreement that included a substantial salary raise.

However, it did not close the door for his potential departure as the 200-million-euro buyout clause was reduced to 120 million as of July 1.

Twelve days later, Griezmann became a Barcelona player.

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FC Goa sign winger Alex Romario Jesuraj for three years

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Alex Romario Jesuraj along with Ravi Puskur, Head of Technical Operations at FC Goa.

Panaji:  Winger Alexander Romario Jesuraj has joined FC Goa on a 3-year-deal, which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2022.

The 22-year-old made 34 appearances for I-League side Chennai City FC across the previous two seasons, ending 2018-’19 with a winners’ medal. The flying winger is widely considered as an exciting player, scoring four goals for CCFC, earning the sobriquet of “Namma Neymar Romario” (Our Neymar Romario).

Named after Brazilian legend and FIFA World Cup winner Romario, the winger from Dindigul broke into the Tamil Nadu Under-16 team at 13, also earning himself a place in the India Under-13 camp. He started his senior level career at Arrows FC in the Chennai Football Association Senior Division before switching to I-League side Chennai City FC.

Romario was happy to join FC Goa and reserved words of praise for their style of football. “I am very excited to join the best club in India. I watched them play last season and understood that this is the type of football that I wanted to play.”

Ravi Puskur, Head of Technical Operations at FC Goa, said, “We are very pleased with the capture of Romario, adding to the roster of highly talented Indian youngsters at the club. He is an exciting winger who is very dynamic on the pitch. He is also a proven winner, having won a league title at a relatively young age.”

The Tamil Nadu winger will be sent out on loan to Mohun Bagan for the upcoming season.

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