I-League 2017/18: Minerva Punjab owner accuses AIFF of player-snatching, pleads with Rathore to intervene
What's the story?
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) does not seem to be away from a controversy for long! Ahead of the start of I-League, which will finally see the body's youth project - the "Indian Arrows" team participate in the competition, the Indian football federation has come under serious allegations from one of the club owners.
Ranjit Bajaj, the owner of Minerva Punjab FC has alleged that the AIFF has taken his club's youth players for the Indian Arrows team by unfair means. The method used by the authorities to make players available for their pet project has now come under direct scrutiny after Bajaj's claims.
In case you didn't know...
A team comprising of India's U17 and U19 players to participate in the I-League has long been on the mind of the AIFF. But after the FIFA U17 World Cup, the authorities and the manager of this team - Luis Norton De Matos made it possible to make 'Indian Arrows' a reality.
The heart of the matter
Coming back to the issue, Bajaj today tweeted that the AIFF held a "jaali" (fraudulent) player status committee and awarded two of his players to the Indian Arrows side.
He has alleged that the committee was a bogus one, which was created just to get the job done for the governing body and have a strong squad for the Arrows team. Bajaj has sought the help of sports minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on the matter.
The Minerva owner further went on to allege that two of his "officially registered" players, Shubham Sarangi and Narender were snatched from his team.
On being asked about the issue, Bajaj said to Sportskeeda, "I would be proud to see my academy players to play in the national team. It is an honour for me. But why are they being sent to other clubs, when they have a contract with me? I don't know who to go to, for this."
Another source from the Minerva Academy said that as many as four players from the Minerva Academy have been sent to other clubs (including the Indian Arrows).
As per rules, the clubs that are affiliated to the federation, cannot take legal recourse against AIFF.
With the I-League kicking off on November 25, the Indian Arrows are still in the process of finalising their squad. They are set to play two games in Goa before their first game on November 29 against Chennai City FC. Minerva Punjab are set to face this Arrows side in the second week of the league which will be an exciting one, considering the backdrop to this matchup.
If Bajaj's claims have any truth about his youth players being taken away by unfair means, the clubs need to be protected from these sort of situations by the higher authorities. Though the Indian Arrows is a commendable project, it should not be made a reality at the expense of other clubs' future.