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I-League to have marquee foreigners from 2014-15 campaign; Federation Cup in Jammu & Kashmir

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Following a meeting of the AIFF executive committee on Wednesday it was decided that every I-League club must have at least one marquee foreigner in the 2014-15 season.

The exact criteria for the marquee foreigner is yet to be decided by the I-League department but Sportskeeda learnt that any player with the experience of playing in a World Cup, major European domestic league, AFC Champions League will be considered.

Some of the clubs like the Big Two of Kolkata have raised concerns regarding the marquee foreigner rule citing financial problems.

The committee has also made it mandatory for coaches and technical directors to have an AFC A license for them to sit on technical area. So it remains to be seen how this affects Subhash Bhowmick, who has been appointed as Mohun Bagan’s technical director. The Kolkata giants have reportedly sent a request to the AFC to grant Bhowmick the degree because of his excellent record at domestic and Asian level.

Another key decision from the meeting was that the Federation Cup would take place in May 2015 in Jammu and Kashmir. So for the second time the valley will be hosting India’s FA Cup, having staged it in 1986, and Kashmir-based Ishfaq Ahmed expressed his delight on hearing that news.

“This will be a big boost for Jammu and Kashmir. It is very important for the youngsters here to watch top quality Indian players and foreigners in action. The Federation Cup is a qualifier for the AFC Cup so this is a great chance for the valley to show their passion for football. Hopefully there will also be a team from the state in the tournament,” Ishfaq told Sportskeeda.

Jammu and Kashmir will be hosting the Kashmir Invitation Cup from May 25 with outstation teams like Air India, ONGC and Mizoram Santosh Trophy team being among the participants. Ishfaq, who could feature for J&K Forest in the tournament, said that the onus will be on the J&K football association to ensure that the competition is a success.

“Of course it will be important that this event goes well because teams like ONGC, Air India and Mizoram will be able to give their feedback,” Ishfaq added.

The winners of the 2015 Federation Cup will get a slot in the 2016 AFC Cup.

The 2014-15 I-League will start in the first week of December and AIFF president Praful Patel made it clear that only the clubs that get national license will be allowed to feature in the league.

“There is a meeting on club licensing on May 21. It’s entirely up to the First Instance Body to decide on which clubs get the licence to play the 2014-15 edition of the I-League,” Patel said.

Federation Cup holders Churchill Brothers currently have the playoff slot for the 2015 AFC Cup but they could lose it if they don’t get the license. In that case, I-League runners-up East Bengal will take their place in Asia’s Europa League, provided the Kolkata club gets the license.

I-League champions Bengaluru FC will get a spot in the 2015 AFC Champions League qualifiers and if they don’t make it to the group stage of the ACL, the JSW-owned club will get a direct slot in the AFC Cup group stage.

Sportskeeda learnt that the AFC competitions committee last month decided that India would get two slots in the AFC Cup but that has to be approved by the executive committee later this year.

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