Kalyan as President has damaged image of AIFF: Bhaichung Bhutia

March 3, 2024
Known as the common man’s game, football is not just the most popular sport in the world, it also unites people across boundaries.

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) Known as the common man’s game, football is not just the most popular sport in the world, it also unites people across boundaries. And it comes as a rude shock that while India as a country is becoming a stronger global power by the day, its position in the common man’s game has drastically degraded in the last year. Unfortunately, when one talks of global ambassadors in football, India has only one name — Bhaichung Bhutia.

And the former India skipper’s heart bleeds when he sees India’s FIFA ranking has dropped 15 places to 117 in the recent rankings — worst in last seven years. While not someone to shy away from taking on the strongest defenders on the football pitch, he only watches helplessly as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has failed to provide a professional set-up to help the game grow in the country.

Speaking exclusively to IANS, the Sikimmese Sniper said Kalyan Chaubey (AIFF President) has failed Indian football and the constant in-fighting is one of the major reasons why the team has failed to rise to the challenges and stride forward in the global platform.

“It is complete mismanagement by the top-most, including the President himself. Even today if you look at it, there is a lot of mismanagement in the administrative activities. There is a lot of misuse of funds. There is a complete mess in the AIFF, and Kalyan as President has really damaged the image of the AIFF.

“And today, I think it is so sad to read a lot of controversies that are happening in the federation with the financial thing. The lawyer of the AIFF has filed a case against the President. The General Secretary has filed a case against the President. I think it is a very sad affair and it is very sad for Indian football that how the President and his leadership has taken the game,” he rued.

Asked about the drop in ranking — a real low in recent times — Bhaichung Bhutia said the team didn’t get enough time to train and the coaching staff were also not given a window to work closely with the boys.

“For the ranking and technical part of it, if you look at it, I think the teams were not given time, there was no proper planning for the Asia Cup and bad planning for the Asian Games. The management could not really support the coaching staff, the coaches in the team, training wise, practice matches wise. And it was completely because of the administrative failure,” he stated.

It would be interesting to note that under Bhaichung Bhutia’s leadership, the team had spent days together even training in Portugal when they had qualified for the 2011 Asia Cup. Not to forget the number of friendlies the team played under him and coach Bob Houghton — seen as one of the most promising phases of Indian football in recent years.

Coming back to current coach Igor Stimac, Bhaichung Bhutia believes it will be unfair to be overly critical of the Croatian. “See, a coach can work when you give him proper support. You also need to listen to the coach in terms of technical support and if you see our coach’s interviews, he has not been getting the kind of support, he has not been able to get the team at times. He has not been able to get friendly matches where he wanted to play. So the coach himself has really put out a lot of points again as to how the performance of the team has been damaged. That is where the federation needs to support and the federation has failed to do so,” he pointed.

But is this all a result of the administrative failure? Bhaichung Bhutia says he doesn’t need to say much and it is all out in public domain, thanks to the infighting in the AIFF. “I think I do not need to say anything. The federation themselves are saying this. Today look at the General Secretary, how he was removed and he filed a case against the President. They were the ones who were working together and fought the election and formed the body. Now within a year, they are fighting. Then look at the lawyer of the AIFF, all the legal matters are not being consulted with him. I think this is very unfortunate.”

Making his position clear, Bhaichung Bhutia finally states: “See, I am only worried about where Indian football is going. How is it run? Under the current President, football is in very bad news and I think the Supreme Court should intervene, get the new constitution in place and the election is done and get a proper body to run it. There has been a lot of talk about pulling out the bid from the Asian Cup, getting the team to play the Santosh Trophy in Saudi Arabia. There is a lot of under the table talks and deals that are happening, which is very unfortunate.”



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