On October 14, in Kuala Lumpur, representatives of India’s top football clubs were presented a plan for the future. Among the most significant features of this plan is the tacit recognition of the Indian Super League (ISL), a privately owned football tournament, as the nation’s only football league.
The phased plan is scheduled for realisation by 2024-25. This reiteration of the primacy of a private tournament, wherein the clubs and their fans are excluded from the decision-making process, truly reflects the extent to which the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has relinquished its responsibility towards growing the sport in a structured and inclusive manner.
The Federation, mandated to govern the sport in a equitable framework, also appears to have given over all control to its commercial partner, Football Sports Development Limited (a joint venture between Reliance Industries and Star Sports). Veteran football journalist, commentator and author, Novy Kapadia, was in the Newsclick studios to discuss the problems with this model and it implications.