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AIFF yet to get a go-ahead

New Delhi: The Indian football team is likely to go to England next month to play a few friendly matches against Pakistan and Bangladesh, but the tour would be finalised only after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) receives permission from the government.

According to sources, though the federation has agreed in principle to play the matches, a final decision would only be taken after government gives green light to play against Pakistan.

“Though the match against Pakistan would be played at a neutral venue, we don’t want to take a chance,” an official said.

In the last few months, several sporting events, including squash and hockey, faced problems because of the worsening India-Pakistan relations.

While the Indian squash team was not granted visa to play in Pakistan, top players from the other side of the border were not allowed to play in the Hockey India League (HIL) at the last moment.

In the Asian cycling championships, the Pakistan cyclists had a difficult time in getting the visa. Early this week, the Pak paddlers’ applications for visa to take part in the Commonwealth table tennis championship were turned down by Government of India.

Moreover, it was learnt that the AIFF is yet to sign a contract with the tour organisers as some of the issues are yet to be sorted out. “We have requested our agents to come to Delhi as soon as possible and finalise the entire programme,” an official said.

As per the schedule, India would play Bangladesh on June 1, followed by a match against Pakistan on June 4, before taking on Bangladesh on June 8 again.

All matches will be played at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground.