The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has lambasted the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for not clearing the men's and women's teams to participate in the upcoming Asian Games.
In a meeting held late on Saturday night, the IOA had made it clear that it would stick to its criteria of allowing only those teams which are ranked in the top-8 in Asia, to participate at the Games. As per the latest FIFA rankings, the men’s team is ranked 97th in the world and 14th in Asia, while the women’s team ranks 60th in the world and 13th in the continent.
Understandably, the news hasn't gone down well with the AIFF, which released a scathing statement criticising the IOA's move and labelling its approach "myopic".
"It’s clear the IOA lacks the vision and competence to understand that football is a global sport played by 212 countries and that the top 5 teams in Asia play in the FIFA World Cup where the level of competition is far superior to the Asian Games," the release stated.
The moves comes off as a bit of a shocker, given that Indian football has made significant improvements over the last two years. The team has climbed to a FIFA ranking of 97 from 173 and has qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after eight long years. To add to this, the AIFF's hosting of 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India was deemed a grand success.
"However, disregarding all facts, the IOA chose to stick to its original stance of sending teams ranked between 1-8 to take part, thus turning a blind eye to Indian Football in the Continental Games," the release added.
The Indian team's participation at the 2014 Games also faced resistance and it was after AIFF president Praful Patel's intervention that the team was cleared to participate. It remains to be seen if the AIFF will resort to such measures again.
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