Why the Asian Games have gotten in the way of ISL franchisees and the football federation
A raging club vs. country dispute and scheduling conflicts in the run-up to the Asian Games have abruptly occurred during a pivotal year for Indian football, exposing the difficulties the nation’s football ecosystem is facing.
An important year for Indian football has suddenly seen a raging club vs. country debate and scheduling conflicts in the run-up to the Asian Games, exposing the difficulties the nation’s footballing ecosystem is facing. This comes after the national team won the SAFF Cup at home after a month-long camp with coach Igor Stimac and his staff.
How did the row over the Asian Games squad roster begin?
An extended camp, which was unusual for coach Stimac, produced an amazing run of results that gave Indian football fans cause for optimism. However, it wasn’t only about the outcomes; it was also about the in-game fitness shown by players who were running over 12 kilometers per game on average and playing pressing football high up the pitch, frequently outperforming teams that were historically seen as superior and ranked higher than India.
This improvement in performance was seen as a chance to send the U-23 team, along with three seniors—goalie Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, captain Sunil Chhetri, and defender Sandesh Jhingan—to the Asian Games.
Was the Asian Games schedule for Indian football?
Before deciding on the schedule each year, the AIFF interacts with every football-related stakeholder. All domestic and national competitions in which clubs and the nation are expected to participate are meant to be noted. The calendar was created without the Asian Games as a tournament to be participated in because it was not ranked according to the Sports Authority of India’s regulation that it had to be among the top eight in Asia to be qualified to send a team.
The team’s performance, to put it simply, and the chance to improve it by getting the band back together in Hangzhou. The AIFF and the players were perceived as benefiting equally from the arrangement. However, the calendar is created ahead of the season’s start for a purpose.
The Indian Super League plays what role in all of this?
The Indian Super League, which features 11 clubs in a closed format and takes place from September until right before the Indian Premier League, is the country’s top domestic football competition. This year, the Asian Games football competition’s dates and the first few weeks of the ISL conflict.
Who has the advantage in these circumstances?
In a country vs. club argument, the clubs typically hold the advantage. FIFA has based its international window system on such framework. Clubs are not required to release their players for the Asian Games because it does not fall within a FIFA international window.
In addition, neither the AIFF nor the clubs had been asked for permission before the AIFF announced the names of the players for the Asian Games. Two other clubs confirmed this to The Indian Express.
Later, the AIFF resorted to stating that clubs should release their finest players before to the start of the Asian Champions League for Mumbai City FC as well as the ISL season, keeping the “national interest” in mind.
Is the “national interest” defense a valid one?
Performance and player conditioning have improved each time Stimac has spent a full camp with the players, which has resulted in greater outcomes.
For a variety of reasons, an Indian football player’s level of fitness is insufficient for international participation. Players struggle to attend the national camp in peak match fitness, which can be attributed to a closed league and teams built around superior international players. There aren’t many issues about a player’s fitness when he represents his nation during a FIFA international window, particularly in European leagues where club institutions are tight about their fitness requirements.
How did the clubs react to this?
The AIFF was desperately attempting to confirm a roster of players that would be going to Hangzhou to participate in the Asian Games up until the conclusion of the King’s Cup in Thailand. Nine members of the national team were not freed for club duty as soon as possible, which caused a delay in their homecoming. Eventually, the players were allowed to return to India.
Then, after waiting five days to learn the news, Mohun Bagan learned that Ashique Kuruniyan, a member of the national squad, had sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury while playing for Thailand.
They failed to take care of his injury for five days and didn’t even run an MRI. We wouldn’t anticipate this from a Team India physio, a Mohun Bagan representative told PTI. We may have started rehab sooner and limited the severity of the injury if they had performed an MRI. There is definitely no thought of releasing our players for the Asian Games in light of this incident, he declared.
The AIFF will make an effort to persuade clubs to release as many of its 50 national pool players as they can. The fact that India wanted to compete at the Asian Games in order to give its best players additional time with Stimac and his coaches means that this team will not be close to being at full strength.