After every four years, the world’s greatest sporting exhibition -the FIFA World Cup- brings the world to a stand together to support their countries from all around the globe. The history’s most watched sporting event in the world, FIFA World Cup draws commendable attention from India too, with millions of Indians following the tournament.
Amidst all the hoopla, there hangs a huge sense of disappointment in Indian hearts, as the national team continues to remain absent from the world’s biggest extravaganza. One thing more disappointing is the fact that, barring a few miracles in the coming years, it will continue to be the same case.
Back in 1950, India had the chance to participate in its first ever World Cup after the fellow Asian team withdrew from the qualifying process. However, with the All India Football Federation failing to realize the importance of the World Cup at that point of time, the governing body decided not to participate in the event due to its apprehensions regarding traveling cost of the team.
The present state of affairs in India is such that it does not give much hope for the country’s football-loving faithful fans. The Indian league structure is built on sand as the I-League has never been backed up by proper lower divisions. The 2nd Tier looks more like an amateur tournament, while countable states run competitive leagues of their own. This gives light to the fact that, barring Sunil Chhetri, India hasn’t seen players of the quality of Bhachung Bhutia, I M Vijayan, Renedy Singh, in the last few years, bears testament to this.
However, it would have been a different story if I-League clubs were made the stakeholders of the league, and thus, grant them shares of the league’s revenue, but that hasn’t been the case in the country as it is IMG-Reliance, the marketing partners of AIFF, who gets to enjoy the profits.
Meanwhile, the Indian Super League can only make it worse for football clubs across the country as the I-League could suffer a slow death, and a few corporate clubs may be the sole survivors of the ISL, which will be a big jolt for India’s already dwindling club culture.
The need of the hour to revive Indian football is the introduction of new people, people with vision for the game, who can lead Indian football. The reason behind India’s regression is the clueless and gutless administration at all levels in the game.