IOA chief defends football’s exclusion

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder K. Batra was on Thursday asked by the Union Sports Ministry if proper process had been followed when taking decisions related to clearance of various teams for the forthcoming Asian Games.

Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra on Thursday defended football’s exclusion from the Asian Games.   -  PTI

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder K. Batra was on Thursday asked by the Union Sports Ministry if proper process had been followed when taking decisions related to clearance of various teams for the forthcoming Asian Games.

“We have stuck to guidelines that were set by the government,” Batra told Sportstar even as he dismissed the claims of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on the vexing subject confronting the IOA on the team’s clearance.

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The IOA refused to entertain any pleas from the AIFF citing government guidelines issued in 2015. The government had specified that 1) In the individual events during the last 12 months prior to commencement of the event should not be less than the performance achieved by the sixth position holder of the previous edition of the respective tournament in measurable sports and 2) for team events only those teams which have achieved ranking up to eighth among participating countries of the concerned tournaments in the last one year should be considered for participation in the respective tournaments. 

“I am not against any particular sport. I have not said anything against any sport. To say that football was among the also rans is not my view. For the IOA, any sport seeking clearance should be seen performing. The guidelines are clear. My stand is same for every sport and not related to just football. We are here to support sports and we do that according to norms laid out by the government,” said Batra.

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Football’s exclusion from the list for the Asian Games had led to criticism of the IOA. “Don’t blame us. The Sports Ministry has asked us today if we have cleared teams on merit. We have,” asserted Batra. The football teams ranking – men’s 14th in Asia and women’s 13 – also did not help the cause of the AIFF.

When asked how have lesser known sports like pencak silat (22 members), sambo (6 members), soft tennis (10) and kurash (14) got the nod, Batra said, “they earned selection by meeting the guidelines. Show my one team which not get clearance on merit.”

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