IMG, AIFF To Attend Thursday Meeting To Discuss Indian Football Blueprint
All India Football Federation's commercial right holders IMG-Reliance "is set to present an ambitious roadmap for taking the game forward in the country" during a Thursday meeting set to be attended by I-League club representatives, according to the PTI. Officials of both the AIFF and IMG-Reliance "are tight-lipped about the matter," but it has been learned that content of the blueprint prepared by the AIFF go beyond the much-talked about IPL-style football, which has received a "lukewarm response from the clubs." A source with knowledge of the meeting said, "The blueprint will touch every aspect of the game in the country, be it development of infrastructure, academies or the broadcast issues. It is a big plan for the development of Indian football, how to plan to raise the profile of the game, how to market the game. Naturally it will involve a big amount of money. It's like turning Indian football 360 degree." It has been learned that IMG-Reliance "was keen to involve itself" in India hosting the U-17 FIFA World Cup with the long term aim being the country's qualification to the 2026 World Cup (PTI, 8/22). In Mumbai, Kunaal Majgaonkar reported that the New Delhi meeting will include a blueprint that has been prepared "to portray the tournament as an exhibition, and if it does go ahead, would involve I-League clubs having to 'loan' out their players for the duration of the event." I-League Professional Football Clubs Association President Raj Gomes said, "We have decided that I-League should be made a legal entity first. It has been long overdue, and that would be our main issue at the meeting." Additionally, the AIFF and IMG-Reliance "have a different take" on the restructuring issue. A source said, "The AIFF is looking at the IPL-styled tournament as a way to let the investors know that football in India is marketable. Once the eyeballs are grabbed, it will affect the I-League in a positive way. The AIFF and IMG-Reliance will in no way want to do something to jeopardize the interests of the clubs" (TIMES OF INDIA, 8/23).