AIFF and BCCI- A study in contrasts


We often hear that cricket occupies a large share of the Indian pie. We also hear other sports at home are in need of support. While there is a sizeable audience that follows football, why is it that there is limited money in the sport? The events which have happened over the last few days demonstrate why football languishes.

What has happened with coach Igor Stimac will show why sponsors will want to invest in Indian cricket and be conscious of the image risks if they wish to invest in football. Yes, in cricket there is tremendous interest in who becomes the Indian head coach. In Indian football, the Head Coach — read former head coach — and the AIFF are now involved in a bitter, legal tussle. While in cricket the BCCI has done things in the most professional manner and held back on the coaches interviews, allowing Rahul Dravid his final hurrah in the Caribbean, in football the AIFF wasn’t able to get Stimac on the table for an amicable parting of ways. While one sport is in the pink of health, the other is a complete mess for the lack of a better word.

That’s what brings me to the players. Imagine for a change you are Gurpreet Sandhu and you are succeeding Sunil Chhetri as the captain of the Indian team. What must be going through your mind at the moment? Would you want to do the job or give up even before it has started in right earnest? Imagine you are a coach interested in the India job. You will surely be following what is going on at the moment between the AIFF and Stimac. Without taking any sides, and I am not interested in doing so, would you want to apply for a job with things the way they are? And in all this there is one loser — Indian football.

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Igor Stimac and Kalyan Chaubey at the Trailblazers 2.0 (Image: RevSportz)

In cricket, everyone is speaking about the Super 8 match against Afghanistan in the ICC T20 World Cup. Can India go on and win the World Cup is the question being asked. In football, no one is bothered about when is India’s next assignment. And what is the future of the national team after a failed FIFA World Cup qualification campaign. Rather, everyone is now keen to know when Stimac is going to take the AIFF to court and how will they tackle this issue? With a new sports minister (Mansukh Mandaviya) at the helm, I am sure he must be seeing what’s going on and will intervene at some point.

In my thirty years of covering sport I have never heard of a contract which did not have a termination clause. Imagine being told that I can’t terminate an employee who isn’t good enough for if I want to do so I will have to pay him two years’ salary! Which employer ever agrees to such a contract and why? What were the compulsions to do so? What prompted AIFF to sign such a contract will forever remain a mystery. And it is this one clause that has now become a thorn in the flesh. Had there been an exit clause, Stimac could have been asked to part ways amicably.

He, too, would have no other option but to take the three months salary offered and walk away. But without an exit clause, he has the legal strength to ask for two years compensation. Kick the ball back into the AIFF’s court and say he will sue them if they don’t pay up in 10 days. And that’s where Indian football has lost out. On issues of basic administrative efficiency. The powers that be have let the sport down. The players and the fans feel let down and have brought this situation upon themselves and the country. Now the only issue of interest is to see how they (AIFF) wriggle out of this. That is, if at all they manage to do so. Indian football is in crying need for help. Just hope it comes from somewhere.

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