NEW DELHI: Taking cognisance of the letter written recently by I-League clubs, world football's governing body FIFA Thursday sought an update from the All India Football Federation on the current scenario in India. The AIFF, in its response, reiterated its position that the impasse surrounding a unified league would be resolved in a two to three year time frame.
FIFA's letter, undersigned by Joyce Cook, chief member association officer of FIFA, which came in response to a representation made by six I-League clubs - Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Minerva Punjab, Churchill Brothers, Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala - sought an update on the current scenario from the AIFF.
"We would like to obtain an update on the current position of the AIFF as well as any additional information you may be able to provide on the present situation," Cook wrote in a mail addressed to AIFF general secretary Kushal Das.
In his letter, Cook also noted that FIFA's joint report with AFC following an extensive consultation process last year is being discussed now regarding the merger of Indian Super League and the I-League.
"The report's objectives are among others, to provide the AIFF with external expertise and to support your federation and its stakeholders in establishing and implementing a widely-supported, robust medium to long-term strategy," Cook stated.
"As you know, the report is therefore a comprehensive review and professional proposal which also contains a series of clear and concrete recommendations for your further consideration," he added.
Later in Thursday, the AIFF issued a statement reiterting its commitment to engaging with AFC and FIFA as well as all other stakeholders for finding an early resolution to these issues.
The six I-League clubs had sought intervention from the FIFA president Gianni Infantino in a 35-point letter with a copy of the Master Rights Agreement, signed in 2010 by AIFF and its commercial partners Football Sports Development, attached to it.
Full text of the letter from FIFA to the AIFF:
AIFF Road Map for the sustainable development of top-level Indian club football
Dear General Secretary,
Further to previous exchanges concerning the sustainable development of top-level Indian club football and the current situation within Indian football, we have recently become aware of media reports concerning ongoing discussions with I-League clubs, the future of the top league’s structure in India and a potentially unified “Indian Football League”. Furthermore, we have also been contacted by several I-League clubs in this regard.
Many of the elements under discussion are related to suggestions made in a joint FIFA and AFC report following an extensive consultation process in 2018. The report’s objectives are among others, to provide the AIFF with external expertise and to support your federation and its stakeholders in establishing and implementing a widely-supported, robust medium to long-term strategy. As you know, the report is therefore a comprehensive review and professional proposal which also contains a series of clear and concrete recommendations for your further consideration.
In view of the above, we would like to obtain an update on the current position of the AIFF as well as any additional information you may be able to provide on the present situation.
In closing, we wish to convey our sincerest gratitude and thanks for your professionalism and support in this most important endeavour. Your contribution is fundamental to the future achievements of Indian football at all levels and it is greatly appreciated.
We look forward to hearing from you and we fully remain at your disposal to further assist in this matter.
Fifa, Joyce Cook
Chief Member Associations Officer
Full text of AIFF statement:
"There are some media reports of a communication between Fifa and AIFF regarding the issues of Hero I-League and potentially a unified Indian Football League where a report of a consultation paper of FIFA and AFC in 2018 is being mentioned.
"In the recent days, the AIFF President Mr. Praful Patel in his meeting with the Hero I-League clubs as well as in several recent interviews has broadly taken the same line as was suggested in the above-mentioned report.
"Needless to mention that this is precisely the reason that a two-three-year window is required to resolve all contentious issues amicably with all stakeholders.
"The question of Hero Indian Super League not remaining a closed league permanently has been clarified amply enough by the AIFF President, and promotion and relegation eventually would lead to the development of club football in India.
"The AIFF is committed to engaging with AFC and FIFA as well as all other stakeholders for finding an early resolution to these issues.