No Indian Football Teams in Asian Games: Why & What Next? | Analysis

Football

It brings disappointment to the players as well as the supporters, as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) opted against sending a team for the 2023 Asian Games. As the Indian team failed to meet the Sports Ministry’s criteria of being ranked among the Top 8 in Asia.

The supporters as well as the former players are very optimistic about the National team’s success following their recent performance. Indian Football has been in decent form over the last couple of months. Our National team clinched the Hero Continental Cup and the Bangabandhu SAFF Championship with commanding effort and utter dominance.

The Actual Reason behind NOT sending a team to the Asian Games:

The Sports Ministry had already conveyed to member federations that,

“For team events, only those sports that have achieved a ranking up to eighth among participating countries in Asia in the last year should be considered for participation in the Asian Games.”

However, the Sports Ministry also has a clause allowing for exceptions to its top-8 rule:

“Where, in the opinion of the experts of specific sports disciplines and that of the Sports Authority of India, participation of individuals and teams in relaxation of the above criteria (top 8) is recommended with justifiable reasons, the same will be considered in the Ministry for appropriate decision.”

The Men’s National Football Team’s rank is 18th in the AFC. Whereas, the Women’s National Football Team’s rank is 11th in the AFC. That’s why both teams are facing barriers to participate in the Asian Games.

Coach Igor Stimac’s Request:

In between the complications, National Team Head Coach Igor Stimac came forward and made a humble appeal and sincere request to our Prime Minister and Sports Minister to reverse their decision and allow them to play in the Asian Games.

The coach also points out the development of India’s team, which participated in the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup, by saying,

“I wanted to bring to your immediate attention that our U-17 team from 2017 also gave a great performance at the U-23 World Cup qualifiers.”

Possible Expectations regarding What Next:

There is a little hope for qualification yet, as the Government of India may allow some relaxations.

According to the provision in the Sports Ministry,

“Where, in the opinion of the experts of specific sports disciplines and that of the Sports Authority of India, participation of individuals and teams in relaxation of the above criteria is recommended with justifiable reasons, the same will be considered in the Ministry for appropriate decision.”

The Asian Games will take place in the non-FIFA international window. And the ISL clubs are under no obligation to release their players. So the coach has to face a few problems to form his squad if they are going to get a chance to participate in the Asian Games.

AIFF’s Initiative:

The Secretary General of the AIFF, Shaji Prabhakaran, stated to the Press Trust of India,

“This is a decision taken by the government. So we have to abide by it. However, we will make an appeal to the government to reconsider the decision as far as football is concerned.”

He also added,

“The Indian team’s performance this year has been extremely encouraging. It will be a great boost for football, especially for the U-23 boys, if they get an opportunity to play in the Asian Games.”

India’s History in the Asian Games in Football:

India is the third-most successful team in Asian Games men’s Football. They won the Gold medals twice, in 1951 and 1960, and the Bronze medal in 1970. But in 2014, they finished 26th out of 29 teams in the contest.

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