I-League clubs caught offside on licensing criteria
All 14 teams in first division fail to meet AFC's club licensing criteria
All 14 I-League clubs have failed to meet the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) club licensing criteria, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has said.
The AIFF’s Club Licensing Committee, headed by Girija Shanker Mungali, refused to clear the fourteen licence applicants. The decision in this regard was based on the report of a five-member AIFF team that inspected all the clubs during May-June.
The 14 Clubs are Dempo SC, Pune FC, Salgaocar SC, Churchill Brothers, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Sporting Clube de Goa, Prayag United SC, United Sikkim, Mohammedan Sporting, Mumbai FC, Rangdajied FC, Shillong Lajong FC and Pailan Arrows.
The decision comes a day after AIFF president Praful Patel said the federation would be more vigilant towards clubs meeting the AFC club-licensing criteria.
Lifeline for clubs
However, all the I-League clubs have been given a lifeline by the AIFF by allowing them to appeal or seek an exemption for the National Licence to participate in I-League and the Federation Cup this season.
The request for an exemption to compete in the national club competitions has to be sent to AIFF’s Club Licensing Manager by Aug 14. This exemption is mandatory, without which the clubs will not be allowed to compete in the I-League.
“This is a mandate given by AFC, and approved and accepted by the AIFF. So the Licensing Criteria is a must, and all the clubs need to abide by it,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said.
“FIB (First Instance Body) went through the evaluation in great detail. The process was extremely fair and independent,” Das added.
The AIFF started the process of implementing the Indian Club Licensing in January 2013 for the first time. This included an inspection of all the clubs in May and June when a five-member team, that included India’s national coach Wim Koevermans, visited the I-League clubs.