There is sad news for Indian football as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has decided not to send any football team’s, men’s and women’s to the 2018 Asian Games.
Despite explaining to the Indian Olympic Association that Football as a global sport needs to be looked at differently, and after having explained the tremendous success that Indian Football has achieved in the last three years which include a jump in FIFA Rankings from 173 to 97 (at present), qualification to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup – UAE, the successful hosting of 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup – India and the various grassroots and youth developmental programmes undertaken by the AIFF, the IOA chose not to clear Indian Football Teams for the forthcoming Asian Games.
In this regard AIFF president Praful Patel even made a call to Narinder Batra to explain the circumstances, and accordingly letters were sent to Rajeev Mehta, Secretary General, IOA and Mr. Lalit Bhanot, Chairman, Preparation Committee, Asian Games.
However, disregarding all facts, the IOA chose to stick to its original stance of sending teams ranked between 1-8 to take part, thus turning a blind eye to Indian Football in the Continental Games.
It’s clear the IOA lacks the vision and competence to understand that Football is a global sport played by 212 countries and that the top 5 teams in Asia play in the FIFA World Cup where the level of competition is far superior to the Asian Games.
In fact, the premier football competition in Asia is the AFC Asian Cup where India has qualified after eight years.
IOA’s stance and myopic view comes in sharp contrast to the support of both the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Sports Authority of India, both of whom who have been hugely supportive of Indian Football and recognised AIFF’s efforts in the last three years.
It is indeed a sad state of affairs for sport in India that the IOA is unable to distinguish the specific needs of each sport in the country. The IOA was never even bothered to even once discuss with the AIFF the strategy and plans for developing football in India.