Professionalise I-League or face action, AFC warning to AIFF

August 27th, 2009 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) A senior official of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is unhappy that the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) ignored repeated reminders and warnings to make the I-League professional and threatened to take stringent action if the Indian clubs do not adhere to the Pro norms by the year-end.
AFC vice-president Manilal Fernando, who was in Delhi earlier in the week, told IANS from Colombo Thursday that the AIFF is as much to blame for the clubs not falling in line.

“It is three years and I-League is still run like a provincial league, failing to meet professional norms. If the clubs don’t fulfill the guidelines this time, the AIFF will be punished,” he said.

The AIFF has set Aug 31 as the deadline for all the I-League clubs to meet the AFC licensing criteria.

Fernando, who was on a two-day trip to India as a guest at the Nehru Cup, said that he had told AIFF general secretary Alberto Colaco that the AFC won’t tolerate any unprofessional league.

“I have informed Alberto, that if India wants to run a professional league as an AFC affiliate then it has to implement its guidelines or face the consequences,” Fernando said.

Fernando feels that Indian clubs must get professional if they want to do well internationally.

“Clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have a century-old history but are not truly professional. If India fails this time, they won’t be eligible to play in the Champions League. Dempo has really shown they way. They were unlucky not to qualify for this year’s Champions League,” he said.

Colaco told IANS that 13 of the 14 I-League clubs have submitted their details and it would be sent to the AFC.

“All teams except one has submitted their details and now it is up to to the AFC to take the final call,” he said.

Asked about the coaches’ eligibility, Colaco said: “Some coaches have submitted required certificates and some others have sought more time to get their certificates.”

It is mandatory for I-League coaches to have an AFC ‘A’ license.

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