The AFC Technical Director spoke to Goal.com at the FICCI Goal 2013 convention in Delhi on India's football infrastructure and the recent match fixing scandal across the world..Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Technical Director Jim Selby has stressed the need for a well-planned approach if India’s true football potential is to be realised. "My rational view is that just with a big population, there will be potentially talented players, and there is potential within the country both in a business and commercial sense and at all other levels. But it is only potential until you formulate a plan that meets the needs of those particular countries. So, it is important not only to have a plan but also to identify who is going to implement that plan? How is it going to be implemented? How is it going to be made sustainable and how can it adapt as the world and football changes?"
Selby also stressed the need for a cohesive effort pointing out that the process was not merely a technical one, but required efforts from all stake holders including the government, clubs, commercial entities, players and so on.
When asked about the continued success of East Asian teams in the AFC Champions League, the technocrat opined that "that part of the world has a very systematic approach to the development of players over a long period of time and to develop a business."
Selby pointed out that these clubs are owned by companies that have a very successful business model that is highly transferable throughout the world and as football is also a business, it has been successfully used in the sport.
The AFC official also paid tribute to the structure in Japanese football stating that they realize that to play against the best you have to play with the best on a consistent basis, pointing out the example of Japanese players playing across top leagues in Europe to illustrate his point. He also stated that although the Japanese copied other successful models in previous years, they gradually evolved their ways to meet their own local needs, feeling that this was a key ingredient.
When questioned on the Indian I-League, the official felt that it was a developing league, stating, "no one has gone from a structure that was below where it currently is to a top league like the Premier League or the Spanish League overnight. It takes a lot of different processes to be put in place over many years."
He pointed out that the league must pass through a due and long process to evolve and improve each year if it is to meet the standards of the East Asian leagues.
Selby also cited the example of the authorities in Germany who noticed some deficiencies in their international player performance and made necessary changes which fructified only after a decade.
The former Technical Director of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) also called for patience for the evolution of the Indian league feeling that if there aren’t enough players playing overseas the quality of the national depends on the quality of the league, which, if it is poor for several reasons can impact the national team.
When quizzed on the recent Europol expose with regard to match-fixing and betting in football, particularly the link to certain Asian hotspots such as Singapore, the technical director stated, "Regulations need to be put in place for the game to have the perception and the reality that it is a game. It is the biggest game and while most games are played, there is a small proportion that probably don’t meet the expectations and so we are getting less than 0.1% affecting the quality of the perception of football over the millions and millions of people that play and that’s unfortunate."
"I haven’t got the answers to that but all I know is that it is something we would prefer not to have," he added.
He also stressed that sometimes in Asia the media hype can be detrimental in terms of affecting people’s perception of reality and also pointing out that whilst technical experts have little control over the occurrence of such instances they are focussing on educating players in the various methods to effectively deal with such situations should they arise.
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