Sporting Clube De Goa (SCG) president Peter Vaz has slammed the treatment meted out to the stakeholders of the I-League by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Vaz has called out to the AIFF, in an interview with the Times of India, to clarify their obdurate position in promoting the much criticised new league, with their commercial partners IMG-Reliance, which is seen by many as a deterrent to the promotion to the I-League.
After launching the SCG football academy at Don Bosco just last week, Vaz laid it on himself to beg the question, "Let me ask these guys just one question: can anyone give me a guarantee that once the IMG-Reliance league is set rolling, will India's football standard and ranking improve?” while adding, “We are now somewhere in the 150s, can we come closer to 100?"
Believing that India’s poor ranking in the FIFA list corresponds directly with the FA’s lack of vision in developing the I-League, he opined, "I agree we have not made much headway (with the I-League) but that's largely because the AIFF has undervalued the league. What steps have the AIFF taken to market the league? First there was the National Football League (NFL). They did away with it and said they are launching the new and improved I-League, but I feel the NFL was far better. It at least had a title sponsor.”
"Without taking the clubs into confidence, the AIFF sold the league to IMG-Reliance. The AFC has constantly been asking all of us to be professional. We are doing our best but the AIFF could not care less. They are continuously failing on all fronts. Whether it's marketing, title sponsorship, scheduling, promotions, the AIFF has always been found wanting."
What causes his chagrin is the conception that players who are well out of their prime and realistically nothing to offer the game in terms of the national context will get the opportunity to fly with a final big payday.
"The retired players will be laughing their way to the bank. IMG-R has spoken about signing icon players but what will one icon do in a team? Who are the other foreign footballers who will associate themselves with the league? I have my own doubts about the success of the new league," admonished the SCG head-honcho.
Vaz sided with other I-League clubs on their refusal to loan out players for the tournament or sign any players signed on by the promoters of the tournament.
Expressing that this would be a huge mistake, "Any football event, without the I-League players, would be meaningless. For the IMG-R tournament, there would be no sense of belonging.”
According to his principles, the best way for the beautiful game (national league) to progress in the country would be for corporates to back the I-League clubs and, if possible, create the required infrastructure albeit with a helping hand from the clubs’ themselves.
“I have faith in the I-League which only needs proper marketing. The clubs have told the AIFF that they are ready to run the league and do a far better job," elucidated Vaz.
"Players, mostly retired, or those who are on the verge of calling it a day, would make some money, play for fun and then quietly fade away. Can Indian football progress like this?" concluded Vaz, with a striking question.
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