As some cubs failed to release their players, AIFF was forced to postpone the ASIAN CUP camp

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Before the Nehru Cup 2009, 14 years prior, first-division (then I-League) clubs had refused to release players for the ASIAN CUP national camp. Now, Indian football has reached the same crossroads.

These matches are U-23 AFC Asian Cup 2024 qualifiers, and the teams involved are from the Indian Super League (ISL).

Several ISL clubs, including East Bengal, Mumbai City FC, and Kerala Blasters, have moreover reportedly written to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to ask that the request to release players (for the national camp) be reconsidered.

“We have not received any letter from ISL clubs regarding Asian Games. Some clubs have written to us regarding the release of players for the U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers,” Shaji Prabhakaran, the Secretary General of AIFF, told .

“We understand their compulsions but important is to come together and look at the larger picture to elevate our football through our collective effort and take this as ‘Project Indian football’.”

The U-23 Asian Cup qualifications will be held in Dalian, China from September 6 to September 12. With the training camp however beginning on August 12 in Bhubaneswar.

When the AFC Cup qualifying rounds are on August 16 and 22. Releasing players for the national camp would mean enabling the roster to dwindle in preparation for the Durand Cup. It is moreover scheduled between July 20 and August 20.


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Can clubs forbid members from competing for their country’s team?

In the FIFA international window, domestic football clubs all over the world are required to release players for the national team. The Asian Games and the AFC Asian Cup qualifying, however, fall outside of designated times. Thus it is up to the clubs to make them available.

For the second time in a row, Mumbai City FC will open the Durand Cup. With its starting lineup against Mohammedan SC on August 5. Next month, however it will participate in the AFC Champions League.

There are five players from Mumbai City, three from Kerala Blasters. And two from East Bengal on the 28-player list for the training camp for the Asian Cup qualifiers.

Des Buckingham, the head coach of MCFC, said, “We have always been supportive of the national teams and of course, we release players for the FIFA windows but that is as much as I can say at the moment,”

What Next?

According to the AIFF General Secretary, the Federation is arranging a meeting with the clubs. For as soon as possible to resolve the problem.

“We are looking for a middle ground and will hold discussions with the club(s) as soon as possible. The clubs have been very co-operative so far,” he said.

“Football in India will grow only if the national team gets more successful. At the moment, we are going through a transition period. We want to make the national team more competitive and to improve our competitiveness, we shouldn’t be missing any opportunities to expose our players and team,” he added.

India will have the opportunity to compete in the quadrennial Games. It will be for the first time since 1960 at the U-23 AFC Asian Cup 2024. It will be held in Qatar and serves as the qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

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