Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj on Wednesday said the I-League clubs will take legal recourse if Fifa does not intervene in the Indian football crisis, in response to the world governing body’s advice to work closely with AIFF to find a solution.
Six I-League clubs, led by former I-League champions Minerva, had questioned the All India Football Federation’s move to award the top league status to the privately-run Indian Super League, and they had written a letter to the Fifa in this regard.
The Fifa initially asked the AIFF to submit an update on the Indian football scenario, but in the latest latter sent to I-League clubs, the world body urged the agitating teams to work closely with the national federation, while acknowledging that “complex issues” facing the sport require a “prudent and measured approach”.
“The review performed in 2018 did indeed identify a number of complex issues which require a prudent and measured approach, encompassing the positions of all relevant stakeholders, in order to be appropriately addressed,” the Fifa said in the letter.
“We strongly believe that the AIFF is best placed to do this ... it will be important that all clubs work closely with the AIFF as the cooperation of all stakeholders will be fundamental to ensuring that the best way forward for top-level football in India is found.”
Reacting to the Fifa letter, Bajaj said if the world body does not intervene in the situation, the I-League clubs will approach the Indian courts as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Switzerland.
“... the I-League clubs will have to approach the Indian courts for any legal recourse available to us and shall also consider moving to the CAS for relief,” he wrote to Fifa in reply.
“I am surprised to find Fifa turning a blind eye to the clear and obvious violation of FIFA statutes and principles by the AIFF which would not be acceptable anywhere in the world,” Bajaj wrote in the letter addressed to FIFA Acting Deputy Secretary General (Football) Mattias Grafstrom.
“We strongly believe that the AIFF is totally incompetent in handling the crisis which is being faced by the Indian football. By signing the illegal Master Rights Agreement with the IMG-Reliance, the AIFF has become nothing but a puppet of its commercial partner who is ravaging Indian football for its own private profit.”
Bajaj also said that he is yet to receive the Fifa letter in his club’s official e-mail but the same has been forwarded to him by various sources. He said that he was surprised to find that Fifa has taken a completely different line of thought than the earlier letter sent to AIFF, asking the national federation to update on the current Indian football scenario.
“The I-League clubs wrote to Fifa as a last resort, hoping for your intervention against the atrocities committed by AIFF. The forceful relegation of I-League clubs and the out sourcing of its own essential functions to a private body (FSDL-Reliance) for the commercial exploitation of the sport to profit and benefit the private body is something which is against the very core principles of Fifa and sport of football.
“By asking us to trust in the plan and the words of AIFF president, you are asking us to trust someone who has been dishonest about the intentions of AIFF from the start,” the Minerva owner said in the letter.