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SBD Global/October 31, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

All India Football Federation Takes Hit With Indian Super League Delay

By pushing back the "much-hyped" Indian Super League by eight months, IMG-Reliance has bought itself extra time to set its house in order, according to Mihir Vasavda of the INDIAN EXPRESS. But Indian football's commercial rights holders "have severely dented its credibility, not just in the country but globally as well." This is the second time in as many years that "a tournament of this magnitude has failed to take off as planned." In '11, Premier League Soccer -- a tournament planned on similar lines to the ISL, which was to be held in Bengal -- "was announced amidst much fanfare." However, "it fizzled out in a matter of few months owing to financial constraints and lack of infrastructure." As much as IMG-R is to be held responsible for this, the All India Football Federation "cannot shy away from taking the blame either." The AIFF "gave its marketing partners a free hand in organising the tournament, turned a blind eye to the ground realities and sat passively as IMG-R and the I-League clubs publicly traded blows" (INDIAN EXPRESS, 10/30). THE HINDU reported IMG-R's decision has left the AIFF "red faced." An AIFF functionary said, "AIFF will be blamed for the fiasco as it is the parent body. If something goes wrong in the family, the head of the family is always hauled up." The AIFF officials "have refrained from openly criticising IMG-R's move as the federation president Praful Patel had been instrumental in bringing in" the Rs. 700-crore ($114M) agreement. Many in the AIFF feel that "the national body has been taken for granted as the decision to postpone the tournament has actually been taken 'unilaterally' though the AIFF was officially made a part of it" (THE HINDU, 10/30).

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