Sporting Club de Goa called out AIFF Secretary Kushal Das in the strongest of terms yesterday after the latter had alleged that they and Salgaocar FC enjoyed lesser popularity than FC Bardez.
The entire controversy came up after the two Goan clubs decided to pull out of the I-League this season, thus posing several severe problems for the AIFF. The reasons for the sudden withdrawal are lack of support, financially and otherwise, and the forceful amalgamation of the ISL and I-League, something which would see these clubs relegated to the second tier of the Indian football structure.
The AIFF has been having a hard time ensuring that the National League runs smoothly since teams have been dropping out regularly. Salgaocar and Sporting are the latest on a list that already has Bharat FC, JCT, Mahindra United on it. Dempo FC may be another potential candidate. Under such circumstances, one expected the Secretary to be more careful in the manner in which he handled the issue. However, his words have started off a verbal warfare which only serves as a really bad advertisement for Indian football.
In his official statement, Sporting CEO Victor Fernandes said: "All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das is living in a fool’s paradise. The pull-out of Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa should have been a wake-up call for the AIFF to at least now set it’s messy house in order but instead the federation, and its ignorant general secretary, have resorted to unnecessarily pointing the accusing finger at us.”
“In an interview with a news agency and other media channels, Das said, ‘FC Bardez have a bigger fan following than these clubs. I have seen them in the Goa Pro League.’
“Kushal Das is really cut-off from the reality. To say that a four-month-old club has more fan following than us is ridiculous and a huge insult to the contribution of clubs like Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa, who have contributed immensely to the development of Indian football,” he added.
Fernandes continued: “We wonder how many matches Kushal Das watched in Goa and how many I-League matches he has attended since becoming secretary? For the ignorant Kushal Das’s knowledge, until some years ago, both clubs attracted massive crowd wherever it played. The Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, saw big attendances but since Praful Patel took over as president and Kushal Das was appointed secretary, the numbers have dwindled.
“Indian football’s slump is also reflected in the poor rankings and much of this is due to mismanagement by the AIFF. The AIFF cannot blame the Goan clubs to hide its own inefficiency. Indian football is at its lowest ebb and an ill-informed secretary doesn’t help its cause.”
Fernandes went on to add, “Kushal Das must remember that he is a paid employee of the AIFF. We have not made a living out of football but instead helped others make a living through football. It is clear that Kushal Das, who is occupying a wrong chair, has no clue about football in India and his comments reflect the deplorable state of AIFF at the moment. Kushal Das is an embarrassment for Indian football. He must apologise for his comments which are shocking and uncalled for."