The All India Football Federation on Sunday hit out at the Indian Olympic Association after it decided not to send Indian football teams to the 2018 Asian Games in August.
According to an Indian Express report, the decision was made as officials believe that the teams “did not stand a chance to compete for medals”.
Football has been classified as a priority sport by the sports ministry, but IOA officials insist that the team cannot be sent if they have no medal prospects.
According to Sports Ministry guidelines, only teams that are ranked among the top-eight nations competing at the Asian Games will be considered for participation. India’s men’s team is ranked 14th in Asia, while the women’s team is in 13th place.
The AIFF, which was planning to use the Asian Games as preparation for the men’s national team’s Asian Cup campaign to be held early next year, said the IOA had a “myopic view”. Indian football’s governing body also pointed out that men’s team’s Fifa ranking had improved from 173 to 97 in the last three years, while the team also qualified for Asia’s premier football competition. India also successfully hosted the Fifa Under-17 World Cup last year.
“It’s clear the IOA lacks the vision and competence to understand that football is a global sport played by 212 countries and that the top five teams in Asia play in the Fifa World Cup where the level of competition is far superior to the Asian Games,” the AIFF said in a press release.
The AIFF is planning to take the matter up with sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, according to the report. “IOA’s stance and myopic view comes in sharp contrast to the support of both the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Sports Authority of India, both of whom who have been hugely supportive of Indian football and recognised AIFF’s efforts in the last three years,” the release said.
“It is indeed a sad state of affairs for sport in India that the IOA is unable to distinguish the specific needs of each sport in the country. The IOA was never even bothered to even once discuss with the AIFF the strategy and plans for developing football in India,” the release added.