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Sad that AIFF has taken I-League clubs for granted: Salgaocar

Jaydeep Basu

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Salgaocar SC withdrew from the I-League in 2016. Photos: Twitter and Google.

Salgaocar SC owner Shivanand Salgaocar says the current state of Indian football pains him

New Delhi: Things were different in 1956. Narendra Damodardas Modi was a six-year-old kid, Elvis Presley’s maiden RCA single “Heartbreak Hotel” had just been released and Indian national football team reached the Olympic semifinals. Most importantly, the words “franchise” and “professional league” were unheard in Indian sport.

This was the time when VM Salgaocar Group of Companies launched Salgaocar Sports Club (now Salgaocar Football Club) with an aim to promote local talent in Goa. In years to come, Salgaocar became one of India’s finest clubs from the western coast – officially crowned the country’s best team more than once.

Jump cut to 2016. Sixty seasons later, after winning the NFL and the I-League once each and the Federation Cup four times, Salgaocar decided to quit I-League, joining the list of 23 clubs, who had either shut shop or had withdrawn from the national scene in recent past.

No one from the authorities approached Salgaocar for a change of decision. They had no time – Indian football had by then discovered the excitement of “franchise-based football”.

Salgaocar SC won the Federation Cup four times, beating East Bengal in the final of the 1997 edition.

The present club owner, Shivanand Salgaocar, is a veteran administrator, who once held top positions both in All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Goa Football Association (GFA). A man of few words though, Shivanand finds the situation sad.

“The current situation very sad for Indian football. Unfortunately, what happens in all sports associations is that once office bearers get elected to any governing body, they tend to forget the association exists for the clubs. They think the clubs exists for them. They take the clubs for granted,” said the former AIFF treasurer.

Shivanand is not far from the truth. After remaining more or less mute spectators to the demise of several traditional clubs, the AIFF is now all set to reduce I-league to the second division.

Shivanand Salgaocar said his club could make a return to the I-League in the future.

“As far as our team is concerned, we withdrew from the I-League primarily because we did not see any road map for I-League teams. In fact, basically, there is no roadmap for Indian football and also for the future of I-League,” said Shivanand.

Asked what should be the right approach in the current situation, the former GFA president said: “That is for the administrators to decide. They should know what went wrong and what should be done to rectify it. In Goa, Dempo, Sporting Clube de Goa and we decided to withdraw from the I-League. We thought it was not going anywhere.”

Shivanand vehemently opposes to any idea that his company has stopped patronizing football. Unlike some other clubs, whose managements, out of sheer frustrations, have switched over to basketball or table tennis, Salgaocar still have 200 players in their rolls.

“My intention was to contribute to the growth of football in a way we thought best. You are free to disagree with me. But that’s our philosophy…. me and my daughter Swati, who takes great interest in youth development.

“We have been promoting football for over 65 years. Even today besides the team which plays in the Goa Pro League, we maintain age-group teams. We have teams in under-10, under-13, under-14, under-16, under-18 and under-20,” Shivanand pointed out.

Salgaocar SC now concentrate on encouraging football at the grass root and maintain several age-group teams.

“If we wanted participate in ISL, we could have joined it from its inception. We don’t know whether I-League will be merged into ISL….basically, no ground rules have been laid down till date. Instead of waiting for the AIFF to take a call on when and how things will pan out, we decided to concentrate on encouraging football at the grass root and promoting local talent,” he added.

Asked whether Salgaocar would return to the national scene in near future, Shivanand said: “I can’t talk about the future. But as and when the circumstances seem appropriate, we might get back into the I-league. Mind it, we have not disbanded the club.”

Football Lounge

Coutinho stars as Brazil thump Bolivia in Copa America opener

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Brazil lacked a cutting edge in the absence of star forward Neymar.

Sao Paulo (Brazil): Philippe Coutinho scored two second-half goals as Brazil kicked off their Copa America with a 3-0 victory over Bolivia.

On Friday, the Barcelona attacker netted twice inside five minutes before substitute Everton put the result beyond doubt with a long-range strike at Sao Paulo’s Morumbi Stadium, reports Xinhua news agency.

Despite the comprehensive scoreline, the five-time world champions were below their best against an organised if unthreatening Bolivia outfit.

For long periods, Brazil lacked a cutting edge in the absence of star forward Neymar, who was ruled out of the tournament last week because of an ankle injury.

“It was a tough match for us,” Coutinho told reporters after the game. “At half-time, the manager (Tite) asked us to focus more and to control the ball better. We managed to do that. The first goal changed the course of the match.”

Brazil dominated possession early but struggled to find ways past a resolute Bolivia defence. Roberto Firmino and Thiago Silva had early chances from corners while Coutinho failed to make clean contact with a header after a Filipe Luis cross.

Tite opted against making changes at half-time and his faith was rewarded almost immediately.

Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana consulted the video assistant referee before ruling that Adrian Jusino used his left hand to obstruct Richarlison’s chipped shot. Coutinho then dispatched the resultant spot-kick into the bottom left corner.

The goal quickly released the pressure on Brazil and the Selecao netted again four minutes later when Coutinho headed in after a precise cross from his former Liverpool teammate Firmino.

Everton, introduced as an 85th-minute substitute for David Neres, completed the rout with a fine solo goal, five minutes from time.

The Gremio forward cut in from the left before smashing a low drive from the edge of the box that curled into the bottom right corner of Carlos Lampe’s goal.

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Star Sports renews exclusive broadcast rights for EPL till 2022

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Star Sports will broadcast over 250 Premier League games LIVE across the network and beam all 380 games LIVE on its digital platform Hotstar

Mumbai: For the past two decades, Star Sports, India’s leading sports broadcaster has continued to entertain football fans in India with top flight English football. On Friday, Star Sports announced that it will continue its partnership with Premier League for the next three years running up to the 2021-22 season.

The renewal reinforces Star Sports’ and Hotstar’s commitment to football in India, with the best of global and Indian football action. Star Sports will broadcast more than 250 Premier League games LIVE across the network and beam All 380 games LIVE on Hotstar.

Commenting on the partnership, Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports, said, “We are excited to continue our partnership with the Premier League and are proud to showcase the best of football on Star Sports. As the home of sports, we are delighted to bring the Premier league to passionate fans in India and look forward to many fantastic seasons of football in the years ahead.”

Premier League director of broadcasting, Paul Molnar said, “We look forward to continuing to work with Star to make the best Premier League action available to the many passionate football fans in India who closely follow our clubs and the competition.”

The world’s most watched league will continue to showcase the talent of Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Mo Salah (Liverpool), Paul Pogba (Man United), Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal), Harry Kane (Tottenham) on the field with Pep Guardiola (Man City), Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), Unai Emery (Arsenal) and Ole Gunnar Solskjær (Man United) orchestrating the team movements from off the field. The quality of play continues to get better in the league with promoted teams putting up a challenge.

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Football Lounge

Casillas yet to decide on future

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Iker Casillas suffered a heart attack recently.

Madrid: Former Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas on Thursday said he had not yet decided whether he would retire from the sport after suffering a heart attack amid rumours in several Portuguese newspapers that he would hang up his gloves before the start of the next season.

Cassilas, on his Twitter account, reshared a previous tweet in which he said he was yet undecided about his future in the sport.

In the original tweet, published just over two weeks after his heart attack on May 1, the former Real Madrid goalie said: “Retirement, there will be a day that I’ll have to retire. Let me announce this when the moment comes. For now … everyone relax! I had an appointment yesterday with Dr. Filipe Macedo. Everything is ok. This is great news that I would like to share with all of you!”

In his retweet, he said: “The same from this tweet from one month ago, except the part of the meeting with the Doctor. More than anything because my appointment is tomorrow. Big hug to everyone.”

The former Real Madrid captain suffered a heart attack during a training session with his current team, FC Porto, casting major doubt about his ability to continue in the sport.

Casillas’ personal situation got even more complicated when his wife, journalist Sara Carbonero, announced that she went through a malignant ovarian tumour surgery on May 21.

On June 6, various Portuguese newspapers said that Casillas met Pinto da Costa, President of FC Porto, where he was offered the possibility to continue working in the club, but as part of the technical staff.

Casillas made his professional debut with Real Madrid under then coach, Welshman John Benjamin Toshack, against Athletic Bilbao in September 1999 in San Mames at the age of 19.

At Real Madrid, Casillas was in the team that won the UEFA Champions League three times, LaLiga five times, the Copa del Rey twice, the Spanish Super Cup four times and the FIFA Club World Cup twice.

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