The upcoming Asian Games have sparked a heated debate between Indian football clubs and the national federation.
Asian Games Initial Plan
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) did not originally include the Asian Games in its 2022 calendar. However, after the national team’s strong performances under coach Igor Stimac, the AIFF saw an opportunity to build on that momentum by sending an under-23 squad along with some senior players to fulfill National Duties.
The problem is that it clashes with the first few weeks of the Indian Super League (ISL) season. In a club-vs.-country debate, usually the clubs hold the cards. That is the structure upon which FIFA has built its international window system. The Asian Games do not fall under a FIFA international window, and therefore clubs are under no obligation to release their players for them.
Nation Before Clubs
The AIFF resorted to invoking ‘national interest’ to convince clubs but did not consult or inform clubs before announcing squads.
This resulted in a delay in players returning from national team duty, infuriating clubs.
The AIFF was also accused by Mohun Bagan of neglecting to inform them of an ACL injury to one of their players for five days.
AIFF’s Last Push
The AIFF will attempt to convince clubs, but the Asian Games squad will likely be far from full strength. This series of back-and-forth arguments between the federations has not been of any good use.
This issue shows the lack of communication, trust, and coordination between clubs and the AIFF.This should improve over time, as this is not a good sign for Indian football.