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AIFF lashes out at clubs

New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF), on Saturday, came down heavily on the I-League clubs, saying most of them are not serious about extending proper medical facilities to the footballers.

“Unfortunately, no other I-League club barring Bengaluru FC and Pune FC have taken up the issue of sports medicine seriously and are still lagging behind despite repeated attempts by the AIFF to educate them,” AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta said during the launch of the AFC football medical conference in the capital.

Dutta admitted that the situation was worse in the local leagues run by different state associations, who do not arrange for adequate medical facilities for players during matches. “In the IFA league in Calcutta, no match can be started without an ambulance stationed at the venue. I am not sure how many state associations follow the same rule,” he said.

Lack of medical attention has claimed two lives on the football pitch in India in the past 10 years. While Brazilian footballer Cristiano Junior of Dempo SC collapsed on the field during the Federation Cup final in Bangalore in 2004, a similar incident happened in the same city in 2012 when a young midfielder, Venkatesh, suffered a cardiac arrest during a local league match.

The federation officials also said they were in no position to sanction the state associations if they failed to follow the guidelines. “They should understand the importance of the subject. In the I-League, both in the premier division and the second division, the AIFF covers the players with medical insurance,” said a senior official.

The chairman of the AFC medical committee, Dato Gurcharan Singh, said the presence of a qualified doctor at the ground was more important than having an ambulance.