Sports Minister throws his weight behind Aizawl FC

Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel has backed the newly crowned I-League champion Aizawl FC, which has demanded a place in the top league of the country that is set for a makeover.

Vijay Goel said he would have a discussion with the All India Football Federation on the matter.   -  PTI

Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel sought to ease the tension growing around the speculation that the I-League champion Aizawl FC will be consigned to an inferior division following the merger of the said tournament with the ISL, saying that he will be speaking to the All India Football Federation on the subject.

 “No one has approached me directly on this issue. But I have been hearing about this problem from various sources for some time. I would like to take up this issue of the I-League with All India Football Federation and see if we could find a solution,” Goel said, while on a visit to the Sports Authority of India’s Eastern Centre and Salt Lake Stadium on Friday.

The sports minister’s assurance about taking up the Aizawl FC issue with AIFF comes a couple of days after the Mizoram-based I-League champion threatened fast unto death if they are kept out of the top tier of the proposed merger of the two tournaments.

Aizawl FC, in a statement, said it had submitted a formal claim to the National federation seeking to remain in the “top league” after the merger. But if the AIFF does not respond positively to its claim then the club would approach “the Union Sports Minister, the Prime Minister and the president of the continental body, Asian Football Federation”. Before Aizawl FC could reach the Union Sports Ministry with its claim, Goel made a proactive response for its cause.

The Union Sports Minister, who said the central government has invested around Rs. 200 crore in the development of infrastructure for the upcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup, was upbeat about the tournament generating a lot of interest in the country. “We would create such hype around the tournament to ensure that all the six venues record capacity attendance during the matches,” Goel said.

“We will try to ensure that the fever of football grips the country when the World Cup tournament comes to India. It is a proud moment that for the first time India will be hosting a football World Cup. We have already stated the Mission XI Million wherein we will reach the maximum number of children touching 15,000 schools across the country,” Goel said, expressing satisfaction about the progress of work in the Salt Lake Stadium Kolkata, which will host the final of the U-17 World Cup.

“By involving the schools, we got good attendance during the BRICS U-17 Football Cup last year in Goa. We would like to follw the same model here too,” Goel said. “We have also distributed footballs to the Members of Parliament to promote the sport in their constituency. I will also like to have the same message for the Chief Minister of West Bengal,” the Union Sports Minister added.

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