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AIFF softens stand towards Premier League Soccer

After raising apprehensions over the Premier League Soccer (PLS), the AIFF on Monday seemed to have soften its stand over the conduct of the cash-rich football tournament, saying that it just wants to ensure "good governance".

The tournament, proposed to be held from March 24-May 6 in Bengal under the aegis of Indian Football Association, had run into rough weather after the AIFF asked world body FIFA to temporarily suspend the six PLS clubs from Transfer Matching System (TMS), which allows a club to recruit foreign players.

"There was never an issue related to Bengal Premier League Soccer. We have no problem with the tournament, it is a good initiative and we want other states also to encourage the league," AIFF president Praful Patel said after an emergency committee meeting in New Delhi on Monday.

"The foreign players are under the FIFA and if there is a FIFA regulation they have to follow it. It is not an AIFF stipulation. AIFF just wants to ensure good governance otherwise we would be troubled internationally. We just helped the tournament to follow a right path," he added.

Under FIFA rules, no club in the world can recruit a professional foreign footballer without going through the TMS. Once certified by the national association as a genuine organisation, FIFA provides each club a separate password to enter into the TMS. The passwords, which were earlier provided to the six PLS clubs, were withdrawn after IFA failed to submit necessary documents related to the affiliation of these clubs with it. But now they seem to be headed towards a solution.

"FIFA had raised the issue over the registration of the clubs and federation just wrote to the IFA regarding the same. And after the necessary clarifications the suspension was revoked. We never created any hurdle in the organising of the tournament, in fact we had approved the league long-back in 2011," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said.

AIFF vice president Subrata Dutta said that the IFA would abide by all the terms laid down by the AIFF. "We received an e-mail from Utpal Ganguly and he has assured us that the IFA will abide by all the terms of AIFF. He also said following the FIFA rules all the clubs have been registered under the respective district sports associations," Dutta said.

"Ganguly has already spoken to the franchisees and they have assured 50 per cent of the payment in advance and they will furnish a bank guarantee, which will be forwarded to IFA and the association will in turn forward it to the AIFF," Dutta added.

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