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The I-League CEO believes that the action group formed by AIFF, I-League, AFC and FIFA representatives shall decide on the future course of action on Indian football…

Sunando Dhar, the I-League CEO, stated that the task force which was formed back in May this year when the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Zhang Jilong had visited the country, is to play a crucial role in charting the road for Indian football’s all-round success.

The AFC Ad-Hoc Committee for Indian Professional Football, which was brought into existence back in April 2010, was dissolved earlier this year and in place of it a new task force was formed, which was a proposal of Jilong in the last meeting held at Delhi where the nominated club representatives from the I-League, namely Rajeev Piramal (co-chairman, Pune FC), Larsing Ming (General Secretary, Shillong Lajong), Joaquim Alemao (president, Churchill Brothers SC) and Pranab Dasgupta (president, East Bengal), were conspicuous by their absence.

“I think what the plan is, and what Jerome (Valcke) also said is that the task force should play a very important role as this group’s primary objective, in totality, is to take Indian football forward through the league which is the most important constituent,” Dhar informed

The task force comprises of Alex Soosay (general secretary, AFC), John Windsor, (director of competitions, AFC) Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran, (Developmental Officer for South and Central Asia, FIFA) Shrinivas Dempo, (chairman, Dempo SC, Kushal Das, (general secretary, AIFF) and Sunando Dhar himself.

“The task force shall have greater inputs from FIFA and hence they are to nominate one more person to be part of this group,” said Dhar.

 Dr.Shaji Prabhakaran to be a part of the task force

It is reliably learnt that FIFA are to nominate Thierry Regenass, FIFA Director of Member Associations and Development, or Jean-Michel Benezet, FIFA’s technical advisor to be a part of the task force for Indian football.

With India set to bid for the 2017 World Cup of U-17s, talks are on to upgrade the existing infrastructure so that it meets the criterion set by FIFA. If India does indeed win the bid to host the tournament, thereafter a minimum of four and a maximum of six venues have to be confirmed, as per FIFA’s requirements.

“The future of the I-League expansion plans should be based around the 2017 World Cup venues as there will be an upgradation of the infrastructure and so on. These must be interconnected. For example if we choose a particular city like Hyderabad as one of the hosts, then we must see if we can have an I-League team from the same city so that the stadium can be best utilized,” Dhar explained.

He added that all the stakeholders of Indian football will be kept in the fray before a decision is made by the task force concerning the future of Indian football.

“The expansion plans of the I-League, whether it is next year or two-or-three years down the line, will be decided by the task force in consultation with all the stakeholders involved,” he concluded.

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