New Delhi: In a major setback, Indian Football team, for the second time in a row, will unlikely participate in the Asian Games 2023. After winning consecutive trophies in Intercontinental Cup and SAFF Championship 2023, Sunil Chhetri-led side could not make into the Asian Games.
Rules of participation in Asian Games
The top eight teams of the football world participate in the Asian Games and Team India is not included in it. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had earlier planned that national senior team head coach Igor Stimac would lead the Under-23 team in the Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8, after the King’s Cup in Thailand (September 7).
Since 2002, all football teams participating in the Asian Games can have players up to 23 years of age. Only three players in each team can be older than this. In a letter sent to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and all National Sports Federations (NSFs), the Sports Ministry said, “For team events, only those sports which have achieved the eighth ranking among the participating countries in Asia will be included.” The performance of the last one year should be considered for participation in the Asian Games.
Reason why Indian Football team miss out Asian Games
In the ranking, India is not even around the top-8 in Asia. It is currently ranked 18th among the countries under the Asian Football Confederation. The AIFF said it would appeal to the Sports Ministry to reconsider the decision.
AIFF general secretary Shaji Prabhakaran said, “It is the decision of the government. So, we have to follow it. However, as far as football is concerned, we will appeal to the government to reconsider the decision. The performance of the Indian team this year has been very encouraging.” If he gets a chance to play in the Asian Games, it will be a huge boost for football, especially for the U-23 boys.” The IOA had refused to sanction the Indian football team for the 2018 Asian Games on the grounds that it was not ranked in the top-8 in Asia.
There is a provision in the Sports Ministry’s instructions sent to the IOA and NSFs, which may give a ray of hope to the Kalyan Choubey-headed AIFF. “Where, in the opinion of experts in specific sporting disciplines and the Sports Authority of India, relaxation of the above criteria with suitable reasons is recommended for the participation of individuals and teams, the same shall be considered in the Ministry for appropriate decision.”