I-League clubs, AIFF continue to be at loggerheads over Super Cup participation

All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das termed I-League clubs' withdrawal from the Super Cup as "sad" and "crazy", and said it did not augur well for Indian football.

Rain clouds hovering atop the Kalinga Stadium before a Hero Super Cup match. [File photo]   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Controversy continues to surround the Super Cup as Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC failed to attend their pre-match press conferences at Bhubaneshwar's Kalinga Stadium on Friday. Minerva Punjab FC, which had announced its withdrawal on Thursday, maintained its stand and did not take the ground against FC Pune City.

Aizawl is scheduled to play Chennaiyin FC, while Gokulam Kerala is to play Delhi Dynamos on Saturday, but both matches seem unlikely to take place now.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das, said the developments did not augur well for Indian football.

READ | Minerva Punjab pulls out of Super Cup

“It's very sad. Whatever is the issue, it can be discussed. But walking out of a tournament is crazy. The whole thing is about football and they're walking out of a football tournament for their whatever political/other issues. It's not good for Indian football,” he told Sportstar.

When asked if the AIFF had reached out to the clubs to ensure their participation, he said: “Why should we reach out to the clubs all the time? The clubs are associated with state associations and are not affiliated with AIFF. We have created tournaments for them and they should come and play. If they don't want to play, we'll decide what to do with them."

The I-League clubs' refusal to participate in the Super Cup stems from their frustration with the AIFF, which has paid no heed to their request for a meeting with the Federation president Praful Patel.

Gokulam Kerala president, VC Praveen, said his side would be willing to play its game on Saturday if the Federation agrees to a meeting.

“The AIFF officials asked us why we aren't attending pre-match press conferences or the commissioner's meeting and we told them that even now if they tell us a date and time, we're willing to play tomorrow (Saturday). We barely get tournaments. We pay the players for 6-10 months and play only the I-League and domestic tournaments. We're more than willing to play the Super Cup,” he said.

ALSO READ | India to host 2020 Under-17 Women's World Cup

“We're spending close to six lakhs for these four days. If our intention was not to play, then we would have left,” he added.

Responding to Das' comments, he said: “We have not asked for a meeting one week before the Super Cup, we have written to them three months ago. Why should they treat us so badly?”

“If they don't give us a time and date before the Super Cup, what will happen after it? They will ignore our pleas and send us the fixtures three weeks before the next league begins,” he added.

  Dugout videos