Shillong, Apr 4: We’ve had the Covid-19 pandemic and its deleterious effects on football and sport in general with us for over 12 months now.
In that time the All India Football Federation, in TSR’s opinion, has shown little energy and even less brain power in getting Indian football to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and get back on track.
We were able to have an Indian Super League season, though this is down more to Football Sports Development Ltd than the AIFF. Despite being the unloved child, there was even an I-League season (albeit in a stupid format).
And while there was no Second Division League last year, the powers that be reformatted it into the I-League Qualifiers, which, being the first sports event in the country since the coronavirus hit, was a pretty decent effort, we will admit.
But when it comes to other football lower down the pecking order, the AIFF has been dismal. The Santosh Trophy – forget it. Girls’ and boys’ junior and sub-junior tournaments – gone with the wind. First ever futsal league – no way.
Now, today, the AIFF announced that the Indian Women’s League playoffs in New Delhi, set to begin on 7th April – just two weeks before the start of the main event – are postponed until further notice. With the way things are going, cancellation of the IWL is a real possibility.
Cases of Covid-19 are rising sharply, it’s true, but what was the governing body doing when levels of infection were low? Nothing useful as far as we know. Is it really impossible to hold these domestic and age-group competitions in bio-secure bubbles and behind closed doors? Surely not. Even the way the IWL qualifying and playoffs were to work was poorly understood and drew stiff criticism but what more can you expect from a (dis)organisation like the AIFF?
Why not trim down the scope of its activities but at least ensure that some football takes place? That’s the million-dollar question! It could be that the AIFF is unwilling, unable or perhaps too broke to be able to organise such events safely. The BCCI has been able to do it – the cricket behemoth limited the number of domestic tournaments this season but at least held some of them. No such luck for football enthusiasts.
The AIFF made much of the bio-secure bubbles in place for the ISL and I-League but when it comes to other events they don’t seem keen or capable. It is incredibly frustrating for Indian football fans to have to put up with this shambolic management of the game in this country but there it is. Losing out on so much football could really hurt India terribly in years to come but perhaps the AIFF doesn’t really think that far ahead. India is worse off for it.