The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AIFF miffed with Services ‘nuisance’

Imphal: AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi Tuesday stated in no uncertain terms that he has not taken kindly to the way Services conducted themselves at the 58th national football championship for the LG Santosh Trophy.

The fact that they went off without caring to collect their ‘bronze’ medals as semi-final losers, has not gone down well with the AIFF brass, and Das Munshi said that he will “not tolerate such nuisance”. He said he will report this to the chief of the Services Sports Control Board.

Services did not accept the medal, contesting that one goal was wrongly disallowed because the Kerala defender retrieved the ball after it had crossed the goalline. The argument for the AIFF is that while this point can be contested, the Services manager Lt Col Joy Chatterjee had no business dishonouring the protocol of the tournament. “This will be taken up in the disciplinary committee meeting of the federation Saturday in New Delhi,” he said.

Das Munshi informed the meeting will also take up the issue of the suspension of several players (of Tamil Nadu and of Bengal) and Bengal assistant coach Sishir Ghosh, by the organisers of the Santosh Trophy here.

“We will have to see the extent of the fault of those punished (from video recordings), and then decide whether the All Manipur Football Association (AMFA) had acted within its jurisdiction or beyond. In this context the referee’s report will be of vital importance.”

Asides, this showcases how the AIFF has gained fame in managing issues on the boil.

The general feeling is that the AMFA does not have the right to slap punishment on players or officials beyond the duration of the meet. This creates ripple effects. K. Kulothungan will miss East Bengal’s Calcutta Football League Super Division play-off tie versus Mohammedan Sporting if this ban is upheld. On many such occasions in the past the AIFF has relented and let players go scot free. “We will have to consider the appeal by the player(s) too,” he clarified.

Das Munshi also said that the formal inauguration of the National Football League will be in Goa on November 15. He refused to name the sponsor of this year’s league, but of the many names in circulation, ONGC seem one of the frontrunners. LG, who sponsored this Santosh Trophy, do not seem to be eager to go for the National League. The calendar for the league will be released a day before the inauguration, said Das Munshi.

If anything, the AIFF this year is pretty flush with money. It has received money from Fifa Goal project and other projects that has allowed it to plan a Football House in New Delhi, costing close to Rs 4 crore (foundation stone to be laid next month). And then the Doordarshan contract itself is worth Rs 7.25 crore. That is apart from the money the title sponsors of the NFL are going to put in. Das Munshi said there are several other sources of income that the federation is planning. “It will be nice to have diverted some money from the cricket market.”

Das Munshi also has decided to continue with the native-only policy for the Santosh Trophy. “You saw the great result that this policy has brought about,” he said.

“There is no way I am going to do away with this and intend to make it permanent policy. I understand that some stars like Bhaichung Bhutia will not be able to reach the big stage in this meet (with their teams dropping out early), but a major policy cannot be changed for one player only.”

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