From Excluding Vijayan To Ignoring I-league, The Indian Football Has Had Enough Controversies 

Indian football scene has altered drastically over the years from being a poor cousin of cricket to establishing its identity in the country. Though sport is yet to reach the heights of popularity scaled by cricket it has been able to regain the lost ground somewhat. Thanks to ISL and the subsequent corporate backing football in India is finally coming of age. Notwithstanding the lukewarm reception in the past, the game has produced some absorbing controversies. The stories have been so engrossing that these could easily turn into national or international bestsellers or at least an interesting potboiler for the mainstream audience. So, we will touch upon some football controversies of the past through this write-up. 

Shortchanging of SA Latif 

The saga surrounding SA Latif highlights everything wrong within the country in the late 50s and the early part of the 60s. Latif happened to be the captain of the team in 1960 and he was supposed to lead the side in the Rome Olympics. However, this was not to be as some in the governing body had reservations over Latif as the captain of the national team and raised objections during the pre-Olympics meet. They were of the view that both coach (SA Rahim) and manager (K Ziauddin) belonged to one particular community, hence Latif cannot lead the side. Resultantly, PK Banerjee was appointed captain and the “hurt” Latif migrated to Pakistan the next year. 

PK Banerjee Dumped For Reasons Unknown 

In the year 1962 when our national team was preparing for Jakarta Asian Games, it was almost certain that PK Banerjee, who led the team in the Rome Olympics, will be at the helm of affairs this time as well. However, in the AIFF meet held in Hyderabad things changed drastically. First and foremost the absence of then-president Dutta Ray had an air of mischief. Then, certain serious differences cropped up among members over the selection of captain. Finally, it was decided to hand over the mantle of leadership to Chunni Goswami. The exact reason is not clear but rumours suggest that Datta Ray wilted under extreme pressure from Mohun Bagan officials. 

Captaincy Only For Bagans 

For roughly a decade, captains for the Olympics were chosen exclusively from the Mohun Bagan team. Be it Sailen Manna in 1952 or Samar Banerjee in 1956. This suggested a lack of fairness in the selection policy as at least on one occasion the choice turned out to be contrary to prevailing ground reality. In the 1956 Olympics SK Azizuddin was tipped to be the captain to represent the national team at the quadrennial event. But for some strange reason, he was given the post of deputy, which he rejected, and Samar Banerjee was made the captain. Unfortunately, Samar could play only one match and his deputy Kittu led the country for the remaining part of the prestigious sporting carnival. 

Why Akramov Dropped Vijayan? 

The Uzbek soccer sensation Rustam Akramov passed into ages on February 15 this year. He gained a lot of respect in India during his stint as a coach from 1995-97. He was popular with football fans as he was the one instrumental in shaping the career of Baichung Bhutia. But his strategy of dropping IM Vijayan from the squad for two important events continues to defy logic among football fans in the country. One of the finest to have played the game for India, Vijayan was ignored for the Nehru Cup in Kolkata and SAARC Cup in Colombo. India lost both the tournaments badly, and the decision of Uzbek came in for some harsh criticisms. However, by the time he left, he had no option but to acknowledge that the Kerala striker is unarguably the best in the country at that point in time and rightly handed him the armband of captaincy. 

No I-League Only ISL 

This is the latest controversy to dog the country’s football establishment. There is a general perception that only ISL players are allowed the entry into national squad and footballers from less fancied I-League are an outcast. The AIFF dismissed the same as a fabricated theory with no basis whatsoever. Also, the current manager of the Indian Football team Igor Stimac assured that players from the not-so-fancied league would also be accommodated into the national team. Strangely, when the 43 names were announced for the 18-day camp for the World Cup Qualifier game with Qatar there was not even a single player from the I-League. So, it was back to square one as far as I-league was concerned.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Don't miss important NRI related news - just give your email ID to get it in your inbox - it's free

[yikes-mailchimp form="2"]
Click here to subscribe Telegram Channel