The beginning of the end for club football?

March 10, 2009

The All Indian Football Federation’s (AIFF) plan to withdraw players from club football for the 2 years leading up to the Asian Cup in 2011 is a giant step towards the end of club football.  It might sound a little dramatic, but if the proposal goes unobstructed by FIFA then one must wonder where the line will be drawn.


‘Goal 2011’ is the name of the AIFF backed initiative where a squad of 25 Indian players selected by Indian coach, Bob Houghton, will forego club commitments for two years leading up to the Asian Cup in 2011. It is believed that the AIFF will part with around 400 million rupees for the 2 year long assault. The plan is to give the Indian national team the best possible chance of success in the Asian Cup. There is no denying that Indian Football is a shambles. Currently sitting 148th in the FIFA/Coca Cola World Ranking, Indian Football is desperately trying to rekindle the success they had in the 1950’s. But at what expense? This will be a huge detriment to club football in India. The majority of the 25 players that are anticipated to be selected for the training group ply their trade in the I-League – India’s premier club competition. To go one step further, if the precedence is set and India are allowed to proceed, what prohibits other nations from acting in a similar manner and pulling players out of club sides in the lead up to say the 2014 World Cup? Allowing this to happen would mean talented players are drained from club sides across the world, strengthening national sides at the expense of club football. As a result, the quality of club football will decline and fans will become agitated with the decrease in the quality and will begin to show less interest in club football. The countries who decide to have 2 year (or longer) ‘preparation camps’ gain enough momentum to form their own league and all of a sudden, football takes on a cricket-like flavour where the primary competition that is played is based on playing for your country.


If the AIFF are not brought in line by FIFA and stopped from moving forward with their ‘Goal 2011’ plan we soon could be watching ‘Football World Series 2020.’ I strongly oppose the game moving in this direction. I am an advocate for the current structure – clubs should pay player wages and playing for your country should be an honour, not a job.




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