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Will ISL have an IPL-like issue?

Calcutta: With the two All India Football Fdederation (AIFF) vice-presidents, Larsing Sawyan and Shrinivas Dempo, becoming co-owners of the Guwahati and Goa franchises respectively, the question being asked is whether the Indian Super League (ISL) will run into a similar problem like the Indian Premier League (IPL).

In 2008, when the IPL was launched, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) amended the constitution to allow Narayanswamy Srinivasan bid for the Chennai franchise.

The present Board president was a treasurer at that point in time. Questions were raised whether there would be any conflict of interest since a senior Board official was buying a franchise. Srinivasan became president in 2011. And on March 28, he was effectively suspended by the Supreme Court.

The rules of the ISL may have allowed these two AIFF vice-presidents to co-own franchises, but is it ethically correct for them to have any sort of link with Team Guwahati and Team Goa? That’s the question which needs an answer.

A senior AIFF official said that the ‘conflict of interest’ bit did cross their mind. “We did think about that… Whether there will be any conflict of interest…. It has to be examined and if the situation comes to that, then the concerned people will have to give up one of their posts.”

For the record, Shrinivas owns five-time National League champions Dempo Sports Club and Lajong FC is Larsing’s club.

However, Larsing said that there is no question of conflict of interest. “Nobody till now has asked me about this. How can there be any? The ISL has been launched as the development plank of Indian football. If development of football is looked upon as conflict of interest, then, I am sorry to say, we have to do a rethink on what exactly is the meaning of this term - conflict of interest,” Larsing told The Telegraph, from Mumbai, on Sunday.

“Look, different games have different structures. Football is not like cricket. In football, we have clubs forming district associations, district associations in turn make state associations and then state associations come together to make the apex body. Also, the ISL is very important for the development process in the Northeast. It will enhance the process manifold and you will see the results in five years,” Larsing added.

Senior vice-president Subrata Dutta also conformed to Larsing’s views. “How can that there be any conflict of interest? My club is George Telegraph and if I am the IFA secretary, will there be any conflict of interest? And it’s not an AIFF-run tournament, ISL is an AIFF-approved meet.”

Well Dutta may have a point, but one hopes the conflict of interest issue doesn’t ruin Larsing and Shrinivas’s dreams.