- Indian Olympic Association stopped the Indian men and women’s football teams from entering the Asian Games, saying that they were only following the government guidelines in the process
- The All India Football Federation was disheartened by the move, and said that they would take up the issue with the Sports Minister, Rajyavardhan Rathore
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Saturday excluded the men and women’s football teams from the Asian Games contingent, saying that they won’t allow any ‘passengers’. While the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had been hoping that the Asian Games would act as a platform for the football teams to build up the hype for the Asian Cup next year, a senior IOA official explained that football teams “did not stand a chance to compete for medals”, and were excluded therefore, making waves in latest football news.
Disappointed with IOA’s decision, the AIFF is likely to raise the issue with sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, hoping that the IOA will reverse its stand, as reported by the Indian Express.
The move has turned into a controversy in the Indian football news, as football is classified as a priority sport by the sports ministry of India. But on the other hand, after it was the only high-profile sport omitted from India’s entry list for the Asian games, the senior IOA official said that they were adhering to the guidelines set by the government, creating a whiplash in the latest football news.
Indian football team has no chance of winning medals in Asian Games, says IOA senior official
As reported by the Indian Express, the senior official of the Indian Olympics Association (IOA) said,
“Guidelines are in place and we are strictly following them. The football team hasn’t done well internationally and had no chance of winning medals. So there was no point sending them for the Games. We are evolving as a sporting nation. In many sports, we are competing for gold medals. In such a scenario, we shouldn’t send a team merely to compete.”
According to government guidelines, which are being emphasised by the IOA, only those teams can participate in the Asian Games which have achieved ranking up to eighth, among the competing nations. The men’s football team is ranked 97th in the world and 14th in Asia, whereas the women’s football team is placed 60th in the world and 13th in the continent.
These norms have been relaxed in certain cases previous, but a ministry official insisted that in the case of the Asian Games, they will be strictly followed, resulting to an uproar in Indian football news.
With the Asian Cup set to take place barely four months after the Asian Games, the AIFF standpoint is also not too unreasonable. An AIFF official explained why the Indian football teams should be given way to enter the Asian Games, and said,
“Football is easily the most competitive sport in the world. It’s not easy to be in top eight of the continent and this decision taken by the IOA completely ignores the progress made in the recent years. We will raise the issue with the highest authorities and ensure the participation of our teams.”
This isn’t the first time that football teams were tied on a short leash, as there was a similar case four years ago, which was saved, however, with a timely intervention by AIFF president Praful Patel. The Indian football teams had gone on to lose all their matches, forcing the IOA to take the drastic step of omitting them from the contingent list.