Calcutta: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) Sunday set a stern precedent for the long-standing tug of war between the federation and the clubs regarding the release of players for the national camp.
In the emergent executive committee meeting held at a city hotel, the AIFF suspended Dempo SC players Mahesh Gawli and Sameer Naik for the time being for not attending the national camp currently under way in Goa.
Gawli and Naik, nursing knee and hamstring injuries respectively, had refused to join the camp and had informed the AIFF that they would attend the camp only after regaining fitness. Dempo too had refused to give in to repeated reminders by the AIFF and objected to release the players.
The executive committee has also referred the case to the AIFF disciplinary committee for a final verdict. The AIFF general secretary Alberto Colaco informed: We have suspended both the players for the time being. The matter has been referred to the disciplinary committee and, till then, they will not be allowed to play for Dempo. The committee will decide what actions will be taken against the club and the players.
However, with no I-League matches being played at present the suspension will not hamper Dempo. Also, with the disciplinary committee set to meet before the Federation Cup the suspension would be rendered a farce if the committee lifts the suspension.
The Federation Cup has been rescheduled and will now be held from December 20 to January 3 in Guwahati. The draw for the tournament will be conducted shortly.
Meanwhile, Sunando Dhar has been named the Chief Executive Officer of the I-League.
Representatives of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, who met the AIFF officials, including president Praful Patel, complained that national coach Bob Houghton ignored the city clubs which has created a gulf between the federation and clubs.
Patel, who is also the aviation minister, promised that a camp for the senior national team before the AFC Cup will be held in Calcutta. We need to redress the present system regarding the release of players. We will look into it. Also, I will ensure that a national camp is held in Calcutta, he said.
It was also decided that the national players will be brought under a contract for the period of Januray 10 to June 11.
The AIFF has also assured the clubs to consider compensating the players during national duty rather than the clubs paying for them.
The federation has also shortlisted Kalyani and Bardhaman for setting up a training centre. The AIFF plans four such centres in the country. They have also assured financial help to the Indian Football Association (IFA) for its academy. Kalyani will also be the venue for a national camp for the Saff Games.
Meanwhile, Churchill Brothers AFC Champions League play-off matches will probably have to be shifted from Goa as theres an India-South Africa one-day International in Margao in February.
Colaco further said the AIFF would seek an extension of the December deadline for registration of players for the AFC Cup.