FIFA U17 World Cup: 3x money from ISL, I-League clubs turns India U17s' heads
The AIFF has a task on its hands to keep the team together.
What's the story?
As India hosted the FIFA U17 World Cup 2017, with it came a unique chance for a select group of Indian footballers. The India U17s crashed out the FIFA U17 World Cup in the group stage, but almost all the players who featured in the tournament left an indelible mark on the psyche of Indian football fans.
As a result of their high-calibre performances, the Indian U17 stars have attracted a lot of attention from clubs, domestic and foreign alike. However, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been stern in its resolve to not let any of the Indian Colts leave and develop them as a unit for future international tournaments, starting with the 2018 AFC U19 Championship qualifiers in November.
That, though, has barely helped the AIFF's cause as more India U17 players are getting their heads turned by attractive offers from ISL and I-League clubs.
In case you didn't know...
India U17s lost all three of their Group A matches against the USA, Colombia and Ghana. Following the end of their World Cup adventure, the AIFF offered three-year contracts to the players in the squad. The AIFF aims to float a team comprising the U17 India players in the I-League 2017-18 season.
The heart of the matter
The India U17 players' current deals with the AIFF ends at the end of this calendar year. The AIFF has offered three-year extension and more than doubled their current wages to ?50,000, according to this Telegraph report. Numerous ISL and I-League clubs are reportedly after the players and offering to treble their wages, up to ?1,50,000 per month.
According to sources, Bengaluru FC might also have sounded out a few players. I-League clubs Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Neroca FC have already registered their interest in the Colts. Certain players who are unwilling to accept the AIFF's terms include goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, Jeakson Singh, Amarjit Singh, Komal Thatal and Rahul KP.
Apart from the wages, a few other clauses in their new contracts like mandatory AIFF-handled negotiations and non-permit for independent negotiations with other parties for five years have put the players off.
With the important AFC U19 Championship qualifiers starting next month, the players would like to get their future sorted. India are pitted in a tough group alongside hosts Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Turkmenistan.
The impressive Colts certainly aided their own cause during the World Cup. They performed admirably which has now started a tug of war between the AIFF and other parties. ISL clubs will certainly show an interest in roping in players who have become household names in India over the past fortnight.
With the global football market hungry for younger talents than ever before, it is normal for the Indian kids to value themselves on a higher pedestal than what had been the case in India so far, given they have now played at a World Cup, albeit the U17 one.