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AIFF censures I-League clubs' joint statement

3:31 PM GMT 24/06/2019
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Seven I-League clubs have threatened to drag the Indian FA to court if the Indian Super League is announced as the top league...
The governing body of football in India, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) have released their own statement of dissatisfaction after learning that seven I-League clubs could soon take legal action against them.

Earlier on Monday, the association of seven I-League clubs (East BengalMohun BaganChurchill BrothersMinerva PunjabAizawl FC, NEROCA and Gokulam Kerala) issued a joint statement after taking the decision to drag the AIFF to court if the Indian Super League (ISL) is announced as the top tier of the Indian domestic club football system.

The Indian FA have reassured that grievances of the I-League clubs would be looked upon. The AIFF has not taken kindly to the fact that the clubs have acted 'prematurely' and have established that the commercial partners of the AIFF, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) are working together to address the issues concerning the I-League.

The statement read:

"The AIFF reacting to the joint statement of I-League clubs feel that it is very premature and unnecessary to pre-judge any action of the AIFF and be commenting on the AIFF Executive Committee meeting on July 3, 2019, in advance.

The AIFF as a custodian of Indian Football has always endeavored to balance to the interest of all stakeholders, and the I-League, and its clubs. To say that the future of I-League, and the clubs will not be taken into consideration for any future decisions of the AIFF would be unfair.

As a matter of fact, a decision regarding the Indian Super League becoming a league were also discussed with AFC, and FIFA before it was given recognition, and even for any future decisions AFC and FIFA will be duly consulted. In fact, during the last AFC AGM in Paris, the AIFF asked the AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John to visit India specifically for I-League issues.

Furthermore, while the decision of the AIFF Executive Committee cannot be pre-judged, it must also be borne in mind that AIFF has already spoken to its commercial partners FSDL about the concerns of the I-League clubs.

It is surprising that the clubs have accused the AIFF President about not giving them any audience for their grievances. In fact, the only time they sought an audience was before the commencement of Super Cup, where they were duly informed that the AIFF President will meet them any day between April 10-14, 2019, as the President had prior commitments for the FIFA Council Election on April 6 in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the Lok Sabha general elections.

Despite the assurance, the clubs did not meet the President, and rather prematurely pulled out of the Super Cup, causing huge financial losses and negativity for a tournament for they had confirmed their participation. It must be mentioned that post pulling out of the Super Cup no appointment has been sought by the Clubs till date.

As a custodian of Indian Football, the AIFF and the President are always happy to engage with all stakeholders including I-league Clubs for the betterment of Indian Football.

Needless to say some club owners have taken to a vicious and malicious social media campaign against the AIFF and its President. We would like to caution the clubs to refrain from unnecessary accusations, and advice them to engage meaningfully for the betterment of Indian Football."

In the statement, the AIFF reveals that the clubs are yet to seek a re-appointment with AIFF President Praful Patel for a meeting to discuss the future of Indian football. The body also has discouraged the concerned stakeholders to engage in a social media war.

With battle lines drawn, a clear picture is expected to come out on July 3, 2019.