“Everyone in the AIFF knew about it” – Igor Stimac on no-termination clause in his contract

Igor Stimac with the Indian National Team (Image: AIFF)

The Igor Stimac press conference was expected to be stormy. It was. India’s former head coach did not hold back, and asked some really tough questions of the AIFF senior management. From saying they aren’t keen on developing the sport and are only conscious of safeguarding personal interests, to saying the ISL won’t work until relegation and promotion are introduced, Stimac pointed out that he had a chat with the current General Secretary a couple of days back. He had suggested then that he would leave soon and was looking for a job. Had he found one, all this acrimony wouldn’t be necessary and he would have walked away without demanding the two years compensation that he now wants. The AIFF, on its part, did not wait and unilaterally sent him a termination notice.

In the press conference, which lasted an hour and a half, every question was asked barring one. And may I say, it was the most important. How did he negotiate a contract without a termination clause? Did everyone in the AIFF know about it, and when did it happen and how? Every contract with every company has an exit clause. In most cases, it is either a month’s notice or, at best, three months’ notice. Either side can walk away with a notice, and that’s how things are done in most parts of the world. Stimac’s contract, however, didn’t have such a clause. In fact, it was done away with, and now that the AIFF has decided to unilaterally terminate the contract without any breach, they are liable to pay him till the last date mentioned in the agreement, which is May 2026. 


I had to ask him the question. How did all this happen? How was the contract drawn up, or revised? And who did it?
Soon after the press conference was over, I decided to call Stimac and ask him the question. He is not one to back down and all he said was, “There is no power in the entire city. I will be in the car with my kids, and the connection isn’t great. But let’s give it a try.”

This is what he had to say:

“Everyone in the AIFF knew about it. Everyone. If they now say they did not know of it, I have to say that is a lie. How can you sign a contract without knowing about it? Then, did you not read it or did your lawyers not read it? It is a federation that signed this contract and not just any individual. 

“I insisted on this clause because I did not trust them. I knew they would try and get me out, because I would call them out and speak out for Indian football. That’s why I had asked for a clause like this. And they very well knew what they were getting into, and only then did they sign it. To now say they did not know about it is plain wrong.”
Stimac has now asked the AIFF to pay him his dues, failing which he has threatened to take them to court. “My lawyers are now dealing with this matter and they will speak to the AIFF,” he said. “I will not anymore. When I spoke to the Secretary General, it was agreed that I will come back to them end of the month, and that I am looking for a new job. If I got one, I’d walk away and they would not have to pay anything. 

“They needed to give me a little time. After five years, that’s the least I deserved. But they decided to unilaterally terminate the contract and hurt me. And malign me in public. It is only fair I now ask for what is due to me. I will use the money to pay all my support team who weren’t paid despite the many promises from the AIFF.” 

The AIFF has issued a statement saying they will respond to Stimac within 48 hours. Clearly, we haven’t seen the end of the matter, and chances are that things will continue to get dirtier in the days to come.

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