The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Sunday lashed out at the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for excluding the senior India football team from the Asian Games 2018 in August at the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang. The Indian football team recently clinched the 2018 Intercontinental Cup -- a tournament that was hosted in Mumbai against lower-ranked Kenya, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei, who used their reserve sides. However, the Sunil Chhetri-led side has made a significant surge in the rankings moving from 173rd spot to 97th.
"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 AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, the successful hosting of FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 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," the AIFF explained in a press release.
"AIFF President Praful Patel also tried to convince IOA President Narinder Batra in the same regard and expalined the circumstances over frequent lettters to IOA Secretary General, Rajeev Mehta and Chairman Lalit Bhanot. The AIFF also said the IOA lacks clear understanding about football. "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 8 years," the AIFF added.
The AIFF meanwhile has planned to take the matter up to the Sports Minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
"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 3 years."