Following the Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) decision to bar India football team from participating in the Asian Games 2018, slated to get underway in August, All-India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das revealed at a press conference in in New Delhi on Monday that the IOA has made no official announcement on the same and labelled their move as 'sad and disheartening'. "Never! There hasn't been any official announcement from IOA about the same and all we got has been a verbal communication. The IOA never followed the protocol of communication and did not even inform us as to why the Football Team(s) have been barred from participating in the Asian Games," Das said.
The AIFF also revealed that they are willing to send the India team to the Asian Games at the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang on their own expense but there has not been any clear cut communication from the IOA on the same. "We have expressed our disappointment to IOA officially wherein we have even mentioned that we are willing to bear expenses of travel and stay on our own," Das said.
"The IOA had asked for an explanation way back on June 4, 2018 and after that there has been no communication as to whether the IOA wants to engage further or not. Even Mr. (Praful) Patel, the AIFF President, spoke to IOA President Mr. Narinder Batra and he was told the same thing - 'to draft an explanation for reconsideration," he added.
The AIFF said that the Asian Games would have been a brilliant opportunity to learn for the entire team. "Eleven players in the senior national team set-up are U-23 and immediately after the Asian Games we head to the SAFF Championship where a significant number of youth players will be part of the squad. Moving ahead, in 2019 we have the AFC U-23 qualifiers and this would have been a great learning exposure for the players," the AIFF said in a press release.