New Delhi: The ongoing battle between All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the I-League clubs is likely to cost India a place in the prestigious Asian Champions League this season.
Though the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has finally agreed to provide India a slot in the elite league, no I-League club will be eligible to take part because of their refusal to sign the AFC licensing criteria.
“May 31 is the last date for signing the licensing criteria but none of the 14 clubs have signed it so far,” informed an AIFF official on Wednesday. “Without it, AFC would not allow any Indian club to participate in the Champions League,” he added.
The clubs’ refusal to sign the document is a part of their long-term demand to make the I-League a separate entity with clubs taking active part in running the show. The clubs have also asked the federation to make sure they receive the share of the television revenue generated by the I-League.
The AIFF official pointed out that Dempo Sports Club, the current I-League champions, could turn out to be biggest losers in the bargain as they were slated to participate in the Champions League, mainly played by clubs from Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Another official alleged that Dempo were pressurised by other clubs not to sign the licensing criteria.
Former national coach and Dempo general secretary Armando Colaco, however, said that his club only followed the decision jointly taken by all other I-League sides.