AIFF’s stand forces states to drop overage playersDecember 20th, 2009 - 6:09 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) After allegations of age fudging in the zonal rounds of the under-16 National Football Championship for the Coca Cola Mir Iqbal Hussain Trophy, some states have surprisingly changed players in their team for the ongoing final round.
Tripura, which won the North East qualifiers, made 10 changes for the final round, Uttar Pradesh made six, Bihar four, Maharashtra three and Karnataka two in the team that originally played the zonals.
Though the All India Football Federation (AIFF) rules permit teams to makes changes from their pool of 30 registered players, a top tournament official told IANS that the teams made the changes fearing that their boys would be caught in the final round. The national under-16 team will be selected from the best boys in the final round.
“These teams were toppers or runners-up in their respective zonal qualifications. But they knew that their boys would be caught once the All India Football Federation (AIFF) starts picking them up randomly for MRI tests. For example, Tripura were the champions in the zonal rounds but in the final round couldn’t win a single match. It was the same case with Bihar as they managed just two victories before crashing out in the first round,” the official said.
Tripura Football Association (TFA) secretary Dillip Chakraborty said he was not aware of any such changes made in his team.
“I am not aware of any such changes made in our team. I was in Dhaka with the national team for the SAFF Cup, I so can’t comment much on this issue,” he said.
Goa Football Association (GFA) and the Indian Football Association (IFA), which runs the sport in West Bengal, have already lodged their protests with the AIFF over the issue of teams fielding overage players in the zonal rounds.
GFA secretary Savio Messais said: “Genuine team like Goa and Bengal couldn’t go beyond the zonal rounds because their boys were playing against older boys. We registered our protest with the AIFF but it fell on deaf ears. The AIFF has learn no lesson even after several boys were found overage in the under-16 national camp.”
“Now in the final rounds teams are changing players. Which coach will want to change a winning combination? AIFF also asked us to produce birth certificates of the suspected players of other teams. Isn’t it ridiculous,” Messias added.
IFA secretary Utpal Ganguly said it is an “unfortunate” incident.
“Genuine teams will always retain their winning combination. But some teams are changing as many as 10 players. It is really unfortunate,” he said.
AIFF general secretary Alberto Colaco said the issue was discussed in the executive committee and the national federation is mulling to change rules for the next edition.
“Changing players for the final round is permitted. But it is a serious issue and we have discussed it in our executive committee meeting,” he said.
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