Indian football legend Bhaichung Bhutia, while speaking to Sportstar after the AIFF Executive Committee meeting, said that one of the main issues he raised was to increase the funding of State Associations.
“States are the ones that produce footballers. I think they are giving 12 lakhs for administrative purposes (salaries). 12 lakhs for all competitions is very less. Though it is good that at least this body has started giving something but 12 lakhs to do U-13, U-15, U-17, Junior, Sub-Junior, Women, Santosh Trophy, travel, and kits is not enough,” Bhutia said.
“There are few states that get support from the government like Odisha, maybe Bengal. But a lot of States don’t get it.”
The former Indian international also pointed out that more funding should be given to grassroots programs because that is the first step towards making footballers.
Player of the year
Among the decisions taken at the meeting, the nominees for the Player of the Year Award were also discussed, and Sportstar learned that Sunil Chhetri was not one of the nominees.
“The Footballer of the Year award was left to eminent footballers to decide. We were given a list of that. Unfortunately, on that list, I was quite surprised that it did not have Sunil Chhetri’s name, though he had had a very good season,” Bhutia said.
Equal pay for women footballers
Bhutia said that AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey had said that women footballers would get equal pay but pointed out that the idea hasn’t been implemented yet.
“Last season was really bad because the facilities, the travel were really bad. So, we asked the women footballers and the women’s league to have at least an I-League standard of travel and stay- hotels and flight fares.”
He also added that the prize money should be increased for the women’s leagues, pointing to the fact that the Indian Women’s football team is ranked much higher than the men’s.
“I feel the women’s football [team] can play the World Cup much before the men. When the President is saying we will pay equal salaries, that is just happening in the media and not in reality. Valanka [Natasha Alemao], who is in charge of women’s football, also made a lot of complaints and suggestions.”
Core committee unnecessary
The former India captain said he found the functioning of a core committee unnecessary because it could not take any final decision. Bhutia pointed out that there are already a lot of sub-committees, and the core committee are redundant if it does not have the power to make any decisions. If it does need to exist, its powers must be mentioned properly in the new constitution that is drafted.
“Lot of guys are into five or six sub-committees, and they are everywhere. This is unfortunate. The Federation will have to look into it. You can’t have somebody whose friends and family are in all the sub-committees.”
Women’s football team head coach
Decisions regarding the new women’s football team head coach are being handled by the technical committee headed by IM Vijayan. Bhutia said after the discussions, an update regarding the matter should come out by Wednesday, July 4.
Evolution of the men’s team
India plays Kuwait in the final of the 2023 SAFF Championship on July 4. Asked about the evolution of the Blue Tigers, Bhutia praised head coach Igor Stimac and the work he has put in, saying that the Croat has been unlucky at times when it comes to results.
“Finally, I think Stimac is getting the right players, the right combination and his way of playing. Any coach takes time, and I think it was a good decision for us to keep him. Right now, we are seeing the results. It is the hard work of all the coaches and the players.”
Bhutia ended with the hope that India would get a positive result against Kuwait in the final. He said that the Al-Azraqs were lucky to get a draw against India in the last match, and if the Blue Tigers play as they did in the last match, they should be able to win the title.
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