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Beautiful game to get costly for many

- Fee fiat of Rs 100 threatens to black out rural Messis, may shut down many clubs

Neymar, Lionel Messi or Karim Benzema, Fifa World Cup magicians, are also wealthy young men with fancy salaries and endorsement packages. But for a soccer player in, say, Gumla, shelling out Rs 100 a year to register himself with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) may be a big deal.

The recent AIFF proposal to centralise player registration system has run into rough weather as Jharkhand Football Association feels many of its footballers will find Rs 100 as annual fee too steep and ultimately not pay up.

Under the new system, the fees from players registered with the district level associations and affiliated clubs will go to parent body AIFF.

Though the state football association has agreed in principal to adopt the system, it is worried how the 22-affiliated districts would react to the mandatory fee of Rs 100 per player.

They fear that if many footballers refuse to pay, it may spur the shutdown of many clubs in the interiors who compete in state and district tournaments.

In contrast, the AIFF has been arguing that registration will help streamline clubs and players, enable each member to get a unique identity card and have their database managed by a software company of international repute.

Amid the surrounding discontent, a two-member team from the AIFF came to Jamshedpur on Sunday to address a seminar explaining the benefits of the proposed registration system.

Held at the conference hall of JRD Tata Sports Complex, representatives from district affiliations were also part of the meeting.

“According to the proposal, district outfits will deposit the fee to the state body, which will forward the money to the AIFF,” state football association secretary Ghulam Rabbani said.

Citing there were around 2,000 registered players in Jharkhand, he said he had misgivings about the Rs 100-per-player tariff.

“It’s the AIFF’s decision and we will have to agree. But I said at the seminar that most of our players would find the fee too steep. Most footballers in Jharkhand hail from remote villages and are unemployed and poor. And if players don’t pay the fee, many district clubs will be closed,” the secretary added.

Sujesh Rajan, head of AIFF’s registration wing, said they were aware about the problems faced by some state outfits but the new system would be put into practice by July 31.

“The apex body seeks to inject more transparency and professionalism in football associations across the country. Unregistered players won’t be allowed to participate in district and state tournaments. We have asked the JFA to help the districts in generating funds,” he told The Telegraph.

Rajan and his deputy Sankalp Pujari will also conduct similar awareness seminars in Patna, Daman and Diu and Bangalore in the days to come.