All India Football Federation President Praful Patel has spoken about the reasons for India’s pull-out from the proposed South-West Asian Football Federation.
The AIFF supremo admitted that the Indian body had not understood the details of the proposed federation in its entirety and had thus been forced to pull out along with the other South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) countries.
“SWAFF was originally thought to be a body consisting of all members from West Asia (West Asia Football Federation and South Asia (South Asian Football Federation). West Asia doesn’t have all its countries involved in SWAFF, so it’s an incomplete organisation. When West Asia itself is divided, there was no point continuing. Initially we didn’t understand [the division],” Patel told the Times of India.
Earlier reports had indicated that India and six other SAFF members had pulled out of the newly-formed Saudi Arabia-led bloc with immediate effect in support of the Asian Football Confederation’s President Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa.
Former Saudi Arabia Football Federation chief Adel Ezzat was made president of SWAFF but his decision to contest the AFC elections against Al Khalifa could have influenced AIFF’s turnabout, according to an AIFF official.
The SAFF was recently recognised by the Asian Football Confederation. Patel, along with general secretary Kushal Das and AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta attended that meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
“The AFC has now taken regional federations under its umbrella and will provide funding. Since SAFF is officially recognised by the AFC, it does not make sense to have other groupings,” said Patel.
Along with the seven SAFF members, six West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) countries also pulled out.
General Secretary Das said, “SAFF believed that this would be a football development programme and that joining [hands with] West Asia would help. Probably, this was done a little in a hurry. The idea was that this [move] was for the development of the game. But now SAFF countries were unanimous that we should opt out.”
Das also stated that the decision to opt out of the Saudi Arabia-led football bloc and Ezzat’s challenge for the AFC president’s post were not connected.
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