Bruno Coutinho: 'Santosh Trophy should be made relevant’

The Arjuna Award winner and former India captain minced no words in criticising the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) for devaluing the once prestigious tournament.

“ISL is crass commercialisation of football in India. I don’t think it has done any good to Indian football,” said Bruno Coutinho.   -  Special Arrangement

One of Goa’s greatest footballers, Bruno Coutinho, is far from happy about the current status of Santosh Trophy.

The Arjuna Award winner and former India captain minced no words in criticising the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) for devaluing the once prestigious tournament. Recollecting the days when Santosh Trophy used to attract all the top players in the country, Bruno said the current tournament now going on in Goa has been reduced to a level of junior tournament.

“During my career all the top players including internationals and used to play in the Santosh Trophy. Almost all teams had internationals. (I.M.) Vijayan, (Jo Paul) Ancheri, Baichung Bhutia regularly took part in the Santosh Trophy. Look at this tournament there is hardly any player of star value. The new AIFF rule has made it more of a junior tournament. Santosh Trophy still has not lost its relevance. There are some states like Kerala which takes this tournament seriously. If Indian football is to improve one should bring back the lost glory of Santosh Trophy but the onus is on AIFF to do it,” he said.

A traditionalist, Bruno, who works as Director (coaching) in Sports Authority of Goa, said the advent of Indian Super League (ISL) has done more harm than good to Indian football. “From the start I was not a big fan of ISL It is a tournament which is being conducted by flaunting all existing FIFA rules. It is crass commercialisation of football in India. I don’t think it has done any good to Indian football. When you have six foreign players in the squad and when the team is dependent on them, it no way helps Indian football or players. I strongly feel that the ISL has pushed all other tournaments into sidelines. The I-league has suffered and AIFF is not bothered and it is really surprising,” said the former captain.

On Goans teams pulling out of I-league, Bruno Countnho said it was a sad scenario and was done out of frustration. “I will only blame AIFF for poor state of affairs. The clubs had their grievances and it wasn’t addressed properly and they were left with no choice but to pull out. It has hurt the players and the Goan football. But again AIFF is not bothered and it is really sad,” said Bruno, who spent major part of his career with Salgaocar Goa, which has now pulled out of the I league.

  Dugout videos