AFC asks AIFF to decide on format for the short-term

However, considering the uniqueness of the forthcoming season wherein India is hosting the U-17 World Cup till October 29, and the fact that the National team would be playing nine more worldwide matches (including the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers), it is imperative that India put their best foot forward to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup; the AIFF will discuss with stakeholders before a final decision is reached.

Sources in the know have confirmed that after a series of meetings with existing teams, the organisers of the cash-rich league have come to a decision to pay heed to India coach Stephen Constantine’s wish of having more Indians in the starting line-up.

Bhaichung Bhutia, AIFF advisor and former FPAI president, and Renedy also pointed out that with the current format of the two leagues being played roughly for three months each, many players are remaining unemployed while some get only three months of football which posed the biggest problem for Indian football now.

The AFC also believed to have denied an AFC Cup playoff spot to ISL as it is still neither the top division league of India.

With this background of disparity, the AIFF has struggled to find resolution between the leagues or a platform for coherent progression with Indian stakeholders unable to agree.

Santi Ranjan Dasgupta, assistant general secretary of East Bengal, who along with Mohun Bagan have been talked about as potential entrants to an expanded version of the ISL, told ESPN, “The common thing agreed by all parties was that while legacy clubs and their contribution to Indian football is important, it is also necessary for the legacy clubs to modernise themselves”.

The goal of the meeting at AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was to accelerate meaningful discussion towards a unified strategy.

The blue print for a road map made a distinction between short and long terms solutions to the schism in Indian football. The long-term plan would be framed only after the Federation Internationale de Football Association U-17 World Cup in India this October – something the AFC, which, along with Federation Internationale de Football Association, was also present at the Kuala Lumpur meeting – had already stated on Wednesday.

Speaking to the-afc.com, Windsor said: “There was a desire by people, who are extremely passionate about the game, to marry the strengths of both the traditional and the new, which helped in delivering the objectives of the meeting in which the AFC listened to the key stakeholders”.

Kushal Das, the AIFF General Secretary, said: “We are grateful to the AFC for facilitating the meeting which is crucial to the development of football in India. It was a significant step forward that there was unanimous agreement that the right structure for the game should be paramount”, John said after the meeting.

A stakeholder’s meeting was done on Wednesday to draw a roadmap for Indian football. “In the meantime, we have to decide on the short-term future of the game as soon as possible”.

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