Indian Football: FIFA queries about ISL vs I-League fiasco; AIFF responds with a potential merger and promotion and relegation
FIFA has penned a letter to AIFF asking them about the "roadmap for the sustainable development of top-level Indian club football" and the highest governing body of football in India wasted little time to respond to it. Regarding the ISL vs. I-League fiasco, AIFF has acknowledged the possibility of a potential unified "Indian Football League" and released a statement saying that a window of two-three years will be required to amicably resolve the issue.
Addressed to the AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, FIFA Chief Members Association Officer Joyce Cook begins with acknowledging the previous exchanges being made between FIFA and AIFF regarding the current situation of Indian football.
The letter goes on to add that several I-League clubs have contacted them regarding the "future of the top league's structure in India and a potentially unified Indian Football League." Minerva Punjab alongside East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Aizawl FC, and Gokulam Kerala had written to AFC and then to FIFA regarding their grievances after AIFF requested the ISL winners to grant them the AFC Champions League Qualifiers spot to honour the Master Rights Agreement.
In a joint consultative process, FIFA and AFC prepared a report and submitted their suggestions to AIFF regarding the current ISL vs. I-League fiasco. It contained "a series of clear and concrete recommendations" for their further consideration.
FIFA also wanted to obtain an update on the current situation of AIFF regarding its implementation as they had allowed them to run ISL and I-League parallelly only up to 2019. President Praful Patel has requested AFC to give them three more years and hinted at a possible merger thereafter.
AIFF acknowledged the possibility of promotion and relegation in ISL for the benefit of Indian football. Furthermore, they said that they have "clarified amply enough" with all the stakeholders that it will not remain a "closed league permanently."
The AIFF concluded its statement by saying that they were engaging with AFC and FIFA as well as other stakeholders for "finding an early solution to these issues."