Former AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi passes away

Former All India Football Federation (AIFF) president and a former union minister, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi has passed away at the age of 72. The seasoned football administrator was in coma since 2008, and was being treated at the Apollo Hospital in the national capital.

Dasmunsi’s contribution to Indian football has been immense as the Football House in Dwarka came up during his tenure as the president from 1989 to 2008.   -  Shanker Chakraverty

Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, the man who introduced the national club league system in Indian football, breathed his last on Monday after remaining in a comatose state ever since his massive stroke in 2008.

The National Football League, which escalated Indian clubs to a semi-professional system in 1996, was considered one of the biggest contributions of the former All India Football Federation (AIFF) president.

“He was instrumental in selling the marketing rights to Zee Sports in 2005, which was later bought over by its present owner, IMG-Reliance. He was a kind of a visionary who wanted Indian football to prosper,” said Subrata Dutta, the senior vice-president of AIFF.

“He convinced FIFA about the significance of Indian football and ensured that the world body opened its grants for its development. He was the one who got permanent headquarters for AIFF at its current address in Dwarka in New Delhi. The major part of the building’s construction was provided by FIFA. He also got its then president Sepp Blatter to inaugurate the ‘Football House’ in 2007,” Mr. Dutta added.

Once he became the AIFF president, he started modernising the administration of the sport. “His biggest contribution came in introducing the first National league, after which FIFA started seriously investing in the development of football in India,” he revealed.

“Indian football lost an eminent personality, who with his vision and organisational capability had enriched the sport. His loss is irreparable and we are deeply saddened,” said Debabrata Sarkar, a top official of East Bengal.

Former India captain Victor Amalraj said, “When I captained India to the President's Cup in Dhaka, Dasmunshi was our team manager and (Ciric) Milovan was the coach. Dasmunsi proved to be an asset to the team with his timely advice and encouraging words,” Amalraj highlighted another role of the man who went on to assume the highest office of the sport’s administration in the country.

Dasmunsi also performed the role of a match commissioner in two group league matches in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He had previously chaired the legal committee of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).