I-League clubs to take legal recourse if FIFA does not intervene, says Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj

Ranjit Bajaj's reaction comes after FIFA backed AIFF president Praful Patel's short-term roadmap for Indian football and urged the I-League clubs to work in tandem with the national federation.

Rajit Bajaj expressed his surprise at FIFA taking a completely different line of thought than the earlier letter sent to AIFF.   -  Sahil Nanda

Responding to world football governing body FIFA's advice to work closely with AIFF to find a solution, Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj said on Wednesday that the I-League clubs will take legal recourse if it does not intervene in the Indian football crisis.

Led by former champion Minerva, six I-League clubs questioned the All India Football Federation’s move to award the top league status to the Indian Super League (ISL) and wrote to FIFA asking for his help in their fight for survival in Indian football.

The FIFA initially asked the AIFF to submit an update on the Indian football scenario, but in the latest latter sent to Bajaj, the world body urged the agitating I-League clubs to work closely with the national federation, while acknowledging that “complex issues” facing the sport require a “prudent and measured approach.”

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Reacting to the FIFA letter, Bajaj said if the world body does not intervene, the I-League clubs will approach the Indian courts as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland.

In a letter addressed to FIFA Acting Deputy Secretary General (Football) Mattias Grafstrom, he wrote, “If you do not intervene in the situation, the I-League clubs will have to approach the Indian courts for any legal recourse available to us and shall also consider moving to the CAS for relief.”

“I am surprised to find FIFA turning a blind eye to the clear and obvious violation of FIFA statutes and principles by the AIFF which would not be acceptable anywhere in the world.”

“We strongly believe that the AIFF is totally incompetent in handling the crisis which is being faced by the Indian football. By signing the illegal Master Rights Agreement with the IMG-Reliance (FSDL), the AIFF has become nothing but a puppet of its commercial partner who is ravaging Indian football for its own private profit.”

Bajaj also said that he was surprised to find FIFA taking a completely different line of thought than the earlier letter sent to AIFF, asking the national federation to update on the current Indian football scenario.

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“The I-League clubs wrote to FIFA as a last resort, hoping for your intervention against the atrocities committed by AIFF,” he said.

“The forceful relegation of I-League clubs and the out sourcing of its own essential functions to a private body (FSDL-Reliance) for the commercial exploitation of the sport to profit and benefit the private body is something which is against the very core principles of FIFA and sport of football.”

“By asking us to trust in the plan and the words of AIFF president, you are asking us to trust someone who has been dishonest about the intentions of AIFF from the start,” the Minerva owner said in the letter.”