Bhutia in favour of ‘one State one unit’

"As far as the football federation (AIFF) is concerned, I think the norms are more or less fulfilled," said the former Indian captain.

ASHOKE CHAKRABARTY

Bhaichung Bhutia picks Bengaluru FC as the favourite to win the I-League this season.   -  ASHOKE CHAKRABARTY

Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia has backed the idea of one unit representing one State in a National sports federation.

In the context of the Justice Lodha Committee recommending ‘one State, one unit’ for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Bhutia said it was ideal for the cricket body.

“As far as the football federation (AIFF) is concerned, I think the norms are more or less fulfilled. Every State is represented by only one unit, which is very important.

“Today BCCI has three units from Maharashtra while none from the North East. Most of the teams from the North East cannot play Ranji Trophy which is very unfair. I think it is important to have one unit from one State,” Bhutia told reporters during an interaction here on Friday.

Asked whether sportspersons should get into sports administration to run these bodies more efficiently, Bhutia, who is the chairman of the AIFF’s Technical, Coaching and Development Committee, said, “I feel sportspersons should come into administration. I, other than being a sportsperson, have seen the administrative side. There are a lot of challenges involved with the administration of sports. It is a very challenging job.”

Talking about the I-League, which is starting on Saturday, Bhutia expressed his happiness about the pan-India character of the event this year. “There are teams from Aizwal, Chennai, Punjab and Kerala. For the first time teams from maximum parts of India are taking part. It is good because football is reaching out to more places.”

Bhutia was saddened to note that well-known Goan clubs Dempo and Salgaocar FC were not part of the current I-League season.

According to Bhutia, for its present form and combination, Bengaluru FC was the favourite to win the I-League. “In terms of players and team, Bengaluru is the best. They have played the AFC Cup final and the players are more or less the same. Not much changes in the squad and they are a set team…For me East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC are the front-runners,” said Bhutia.