The I-League Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) are mulling over the possibility of approaching the world governing body for football and Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in order to put forth their woes over the new league conceptualized by IMG-Reliance, the marketing and commercial partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
In the IPFCA meeting last week in Mumbai, it was a couple of members who brought forth the point of approaching the two bodies. However one of the Kolkata club’s official stated that the IPFCA don’t have enough material to lodge a protest with FIFA and CAS except for a mention in the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) calendar which has a two and a half month window for the new league.
It was this very reason that the clubs agreed to meet IMG-Reliance in order to get a whole perspective on their plan for the new league which would have given them concrete material for their case.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke had stressed during his visit to the country that I-League is the main league of the country though they aren’t bothered with a promotional tournament done in order to market the game.
"It is the I-League which would be the club championship for India and there cannot be any other league besides this. But we have no issues if there is any other tournament run by the AIFF, which helps in raising the profile of the game without reducing the importance of the I-League," Valcke had said.
"I spoke to some of the (I-League) clubs here and they are looking for more support from the federation. The improvement plan has to start at the grassroots level so that sport can sustain on its own."
However it must also be noted that the two FIFA delegations, as part of the ten-year agreement between the world governing body for football and the AIFF, had come down to India in the last year to help India work on a strategic plan.
According to sources in the AIFF, FIFA had categorically stated that there cannot be two leagues existing and if something is started in order to replenish the existing structure, there has to be an integration plan between the new and the old product – which is something both the AIFF and IMG-Reliance have been silent upon.
“Court is always the last step, today we want to work together on the betterment of Indian football,” Nandan Piramal had said during the IPFCA press briefing.
On being asked specifically if they would approach FIFA or AFC if the new league goes ahead without their consent, Piramal said, "Let’s not get into hypothetical issues. I think when the time comes and when the time comes as clubs, we will be ready to take whatever steps are required to get in our view justice if we want to call it that. If we don’t see it (new league) adding value to Indian football, then we will see what needs to be done."
"The message is don’t take us for granted. We are the Part and parcel of the AIFF. IMG-Reliance maybe your sponsors but the Indian FA is alive because of us. So people shouldn’t dictate terms but take our consent for whatever they do," Valanka Alemao, the CEO of Churchill Brothers said.
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