A player aims for the goal during an U-19 I-League qualifying match between TFA (in white) and Eagles Football Club at Keenan Stadium on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The ongoing Under-19 I-League qualifying football tournament, which kicked off in Noamundi on Tuesday, is mired in controversy, thanks to an ego clash between outfits organising the event.
Jharkhand Football Association (JFA) and Jamshedpur Sporting Association (JSA) on Thursday decided to boycott the event, which is being conducted at Keenan Stadium in the steel city and Noamundi Sports Complex in West Singhbhum.
Functionaries of the state soccer outfit said Tata Steel sports department, one of the organisers, was trying to monopolise the meet.
“JFA’s name features nowhere on the banners of the meet. We have given the boycott call to protest against this insult,” said vice-president Ramesh Mehta.
He added that the role of JSA had been overlooked and its committee members had not been given responsibilities to organise the meet.
Mehta further said they had sent a letter to All India Football Federation, requesting the apex body to look into the matter. “Tata Steel sports department is organising the matches through JFA. The national soccer outfit has allotted the tournament to us and not the steel major,” said Mehta, who is also the chairman of JSA football committee.
Refusing to shed much light on the controversy, Tata Steel sports department senior manager Charles Borromeo said he would solve the problem by personally speaking to members of the state outfit.
The controversy may have a negative impact on the prospects of Tata Football Academy, which participates in national-level tournaments after taking NOC from the state soccer association.
“I will not issue any NOC to them. Let them (Tata Football Academy) go all the way to JFA headquarters in Giridih to get the clearance,” said Jamshedpur-based Mehta.
Teams from I-League second division and soccer academies are competing in the tournament. Seven outfits — Bengaluru FC, Hindustan FC, TFA, MP United FC, Aizawl FC, Garhwal FC and Eagles FC — are in fray for the qualifying matches.
Altogether six teams will qualify for the final round, of which four — Kingfisher East Bengal, Sesa Football Academy, Navi Mumbai Academy and Shillong FC have already been selected on the basis of their performances in preliminary round held at separate zones across the country.