New Delhi: Will the countrys top footballers end up financial losers for having taken India to the Asian Cup finals after 25 years? Going by the way the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is trying to frame the players contract policy it could put several footballers in a difficult situation.
As per the plan evolved by the AIFF, 30 listed footballers would be offered a flat 15 per cent hike on their existing contracts for signing an exclusive eight-month deal till the Asian Cup in January next year. A few of them, however, may be lucky to receive special treatment.
Sources claim the federation is sympathetic to players like Arindam Bhattacharya and Rakesh Masih who were paid relatively low fees this season but are expecting better offers in the next because of good performances.
Apart from compensating these boys, the AIFF may also take special care of footballers like Subrata Paul, Anthony Pereira, Steven Dias, Mohammed Rafi etc. who have big offers from several clubs.
The footballers, however, are wary of the AIFFs attempt to close the deals before the end of the I-League. The AIFF is aware that the players cannot legally negotiate with other clubs before the end of the league and wont be in a position to quote their actual prices for the next season, said a senior player who did not wish to be named.
The AIFF is definitely trying to take advantage of this rule and close the deals before the transfers start. Its a kind of cheating and that too by the national federation, he alleged.
There is also the disturbing news that the AIFF may resort to strong-arm tactics in order to rein in the unwilling elements among the players. Federation president Praful Patel has already talked in public about national interest and patriotism; in the executive committee meeting he reportedly advocated strong action against rebel players.
There are many others who stand to gain considerably when the transfer market opens next month but who may now have to forego that if forced to sign the AIFF contracts.
JCT striker Baljit Sahni, for example, now plays for a modest salary but is expected to receive a four-fold offer this season. To accept a 15 per cent increase would be a huge loss for the prolific goalscorer.
A section of the AIFF officials is wondering whether the AIFF was really serious about making this project, called Goal 2011, a success. The plan was mooted more than a year ago. What stopped the bosses from closing the deals then, asked an official.
Why didnt the federation inform the clubs that these boys couldnt be recruited for the first eight months of the 2010-11 season? Now that the clubs are offering good money to the players, the AIFF is trying to twist both parties arms, he added.