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Why AIFF has lost the right to run Indian football

Jaydeep Basu

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The All India Football Federation has reduced the I-League to a non-entity.

New Delhi: Going through the latest press release from All India Football Federation (AIFF) is like listening to the Barry McGuire song. “The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace, you can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace….

In its executive committee meeting on Tuesday evening, the AIFF, founded in 1937, has decided to hand over its biggest property, the national league, to a private enterprise, lock, stock and barrel. With this, they have certainly lost all moral rights to call themselves a government-recognised National Sports Federation (NSF).

In one stroke, the AIFF, led by its president Praful Patel, has reduced the I-League to a non-entity. It’s status, television coverage and standing in the Asian circuit is no more guaranteed.

The Indian Super League has been recommended to the AFC as the national league in the country by the AIFF.

Instead, the country’s new national league will be a tournament, on which the AIFF has no control whatsoever, be it selection of teams and players, scheduling of matches or framing of regulations.

A dramatic turnaround indeed, considering the fact Patel often called it a “entertainment tournament” in comparison to I-League, started in 2007 as country’s “first professional league.”

The stunning switchover, if sources are to be believed, came after Patel apprised the executive committee about a particular clause in a Master Rights agreement (MRA) signed between the AIFF and its marketing partners in 2010.

The draconian clause called for AIFF surrendering all its rights to dictate terms and conditions in running the league by its marketing partners. It also readily agreed, if needed, to close down the I-League, for the benefit of the privately-run league.

Well, AIFF can always turn around and say, “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.” But then, the problem here, is different. It is not about a typical left versus right dialogue, or, for that matter, the age old debate on public versus private enterprise.

The question here is simple; Can football in India be allowed to be monopolised by a single private organisation or multiple players should be brought in to make it more vibrant? Private players were always there but one had different choices – Dempo, Salgaocar, JCT, Mahindra, Kingfisher, Quess and so on.

The ISL was founded in 2014 by the AIFF’s marketing partners.

The present situation is absolutely baffling. No one is sure (not even within the AIFF) how some companies were brought in to raise franchises in the new national league. Since the bidding process always remained a closed one, the names of other interested players could never be known.

There were strong rumours of series of conflict of interest, like a franchise head is a close relative of a leading arm of the league organisers, but the AIFF was hardly eager to probe.

Worse is the allegations of fascist streak within the system. Try and control the process of supervision, the disciplinary issues and even matters referred to judicial sub committees. They often say when companies have a monopoly, the prices are too high and production is too low; also, there is always the danger of an inefficient allocation of resources.

Patel’s AIFF does not think so. The new national league, according to them, has done wonders in producing footballers for the national team, in grassroots and youth development. Alarming drop in attendance, failing to clear licensing criteria or conceding dozen goals in youth leagues were exceptions.

The AIFF, led by its president Praful Patel (centre), will have no control over the ISL’s organisation.

The term “new world order” is often used these days to refer dramatic changes in politics and balance of power.

The same can be said about football and the AIFF in particular. No national sporting body in the country has sold all its rights to national championships to raise money. Not even the much-maligned cricket board.

AIFF has shown the way. Now, it should now refrain from calling itself an old- fashioned NSF, which expects the taxpayers’ money should be used for its developmental needs.

Tuesday’s meeting of the AIFF executive committee takes us back to the Barry McGuire song again. “And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

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Meghalaya to face Bangladesh school in Subroto Cup boys U-17 final

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Subroto Cup

New Delhi: Hopewell Elias Secondary School of Meghalaya and Bangladesh Krira Shiksha Protisthan will face each other in the summit clash of the U-17 boys Subroto Cup international football tournament after they won their respective semifinals here on Sunday.

In the first semi-final, Hopewell Elias Secondary School beat BSL +2 High School of Jharkhand 3-2 to reach the final.today’s sports news

In the second semi-final, Bangladesh Krira Shiksha Protisthan defeated Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre 5-4 on penalty shoot-out to make it to the final.

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Close contests at Subroto Cup U17 Junior Boys quarter-finals

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Subroto Cup
Action during Saturday's Subroto Cup competition.

New Delhi: On Day 7 of the U17 Boys category in the Subroto Cup International Football tournament, four quarter- final matches were held. The first quarter-final saw 11 Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre, Army Boys defeat Tripura Sports School, Badharghat, Tripura 1-0, in a closely contested match.

In the other matches, BSL +2 High School, Sector II D, Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand saw the better of Govt. Pukpui High School, Pukpui (Lunglei), Mizoram in a penalty shoot-out, after the match remained drawn 1-1 at the end of the final whistle. In the tie-breaker, the Jharkhand school edged past Pukpui High school 4-2 for the final scoreline to read 5-3.

In another closely contested quarter-final match, Hopewell Elias Higher Secondary School beat Bampather Bengenabari Higher Secondary School, Charaideo, Assam 1-0. In the international quarter final match Bangladesh Krira Shiksha Protisthan (BKSP) saw the better of Esteqlal School from Afghanistan 2-1. The semi-finals are to be played on August 27, 2019.

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Benzema inspires Real Madrid, Fati lights up Barca win over Valencia in La Liga

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karim benzema
Karim Benzema exults after scoring on Saturday.

Madrid: Karim Benzema scored twice for Real Madrid in a 3-2 win against Levante with Eden Hazard making his La Liga debut while later Barcelona breezed to a 5-2 win against Valencia with more magic from 16-year-old Ansu Fati.

Benzema’s goals came just six minutes apart in the first half at a wet Santiago Bernabeu, before Casemiro put Real 3-0 up.

However Levante, who had won their previous two outings, made a fight of it in the second half as they pulled goals back through Borja Mayoral and Gonzalo Melero.

Hazard also came off the bench for the final half-hour to make his first La Liga appearance after a thigh injury had interrupted the start of his Real career following his 100 million-euro ( 110 million) move from Chelsea.

The Belgian could now start when Real go to Paris Saint-Germain for their opening Champions League game on Wednesday.

Gareth Bale will also be available to face PSG after suspension kept him out here, but Sergio Ramos will be unable to play because of a European ban.

Zidane was also without the injured Luka Modric here. However, as well as Hazard, fellow summer signing Eder Militao came off the bench in the second half and the former Porto defender could start in Paris.

Fati scores again

Real would have won by a greater margin here had it not been for some inspired goalkeeping from Aitor Fernandez, who produced a stunning one-handed stop to keep out a Benzema shot midway through the first half.

Atletico Madrid retained their place at the top of the table, but only by one point from Real Madrid after their first defeat of the season when they lost 2-0 at Real Sociedad at the Basque club’s newly refurbished stadium.

Later, former Real Madrid assistant coach Albert Celades replaced sacked Marcelino Garcia Toral as boss of Valencia who were routed 5-2 at Barcelona.

With Lionel Messi still out and watching from the stands it was left to Fati, the teenager from Guinea-Bissau, to take the plaudits.

Fati, who became the third youngest La Liga scorer when he came off the bench to net in a 2-2 draw at Osasuna this month, scored again in the second minute, before providing the assist for Frenkie de Jong’s 7th minute goal.

The teenager earned his standing ovation from the Camp Nou crowd when he came off after an hour.

Kevin Gameiro got Valencia off the mark but a brace from the fit again Luis Suarez after a contribution from Gerard Pique meant Max Gomez’s injury time second for the visitors was purely academic.

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