New Delhi: The postponement of the so-called million dollar franchise based league, to be organised by All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) marketing partners, is a huge blow to country’s most talented lot of junior footballers.
Known as the Arrows team, the 26 under-23 players were assured of being incorporated in the franchise-based league by AIFF’s marketing partners, IMG-R, at the start of the season.
Now, while seven of them have been picked up by I-League teams, the rest are facing the danger of sitting idle throughout the 2013-14 season.
“No doubt, our junior programme including that of Asian Games is in jeopardy,” admitted an AIFF official. “After the Arrows sponsors cried out early this season, we thought of disbanding the side, but continued only after IMG-R wanted to take the players,” he added.
In fact, the league organisers first agreed to pay the salaries of the Arrows players throughout the season, but later backtracked to promise salaries for four months only leaving the AIFF to take care of rest of the six months.
“Now that there is no league and no franchise, no one knows what will happen to IMG-R’s commitment,” said an official.
“The worst is that they played with the careers of the boys. How can we now pick up the best boys for AFC under-22 and the Asian Games if they are not seen in action at all?” he asked.
An AIFF official said: “They (marketing partners) have taken us for a ride because we are dependent on the money they pay. Otherwise, the entire thing is a setback for the game.”
On Sunday, I-League champions Churchill Brothers sent a letter to AIFF president Praful Patel, accusing the federation of promoting a tournament, which was illegal under the law.
“That as per the Fifa regulations on the status and transfer of players, there is no system of auctioning players,” said the letter from Churchill chief executive officer Valanka Alemao, pointing out the proposed auctioning of players by IMG-R was not possible.