Indian football's blame game! Who's the culprit anyway?
India, a country which has an enormous population of 1.2 billion people, still doesn’t find itself in the top 100 in international football. Wim Koevermans, Indian national team coach, recently compared this situation with Iceland, a country which has a mere population of 6 lakh people, still ranks 96 in latest Fifa rankings.
Now who do we have to blame for this? Well, to most of us, cricket seems to be the real culprit over here. Some say that cricket takes away all the focus away from football, while some say nobody invests in football.
Well, there might be a completely different version of this story, one that cannot blame any other factor but football itself. Cricket has been the most successful event in the history of Indian Sports along with Hockey. Football, on the other hand, does not enjoy any lesser attention than cricket. Football, as we know, is very famous in the states West Bengal, Goa, Kerala and even Delhi. Football in Kolkata seems to represent a totally different religion. Derby matches played between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan can attract a crowd of more than 80,000 people on any day. The city of Kolkata has recently beein graced by the presence of footballers like Maradona, Diego Forlan, Ruud Gullit and a certain Leonel Messi.
But why is India still lagging behind in this sporting event? Let’s start with the cricket blame game. Some people say too much exposure to cricket has taken away the limelight from football and for that reason, football doesn’t find investors.
If we take the example of Brazil, we all know what milestones the country has achieved till date. If suddenly a national cricket team is formed in that country, will the Brazilians blame football for cricket’s less exposure? No. A country is proud of the achievements made in their respective field of expertise.
Similarly, why would an industrialist invest a huge sum of money in a sporting event which has failed to prove its worth? India does have good footballers around. Every club has at least 1 good Indian footballer with great talent. But why does India still do not perform well in the international events? In the recently concluded Nehru Cup, India defeated Cameroon in the Final and retained the trophy, but then immediately dropped one spot in FIFA rankings. What was the reason, you ask? The match did not receive any official acclamation from FIFA, as Cameroon’s first team did not play in that event. India is hardly seen to play during international dates as verified and listed by FIFA.
Football is a game played by the poorest. Even African teams have proved themselves. Then why not India? The main problem lies in the Infrastructure of football. India plays football just for the sake of playing football. The urge to achieve, the urge to improve doesn’t seem to go hand in hand with the AIFF. The Nehru Cup seems like an escape route every year, where teams of low rankings are invited. But credit should be given to India, they still have managed to win it three times in a row now.
But where does this actually lead us? We have seen Indian clubs deciding not to release players for national duties because of their own “fancy reasons”. They first question that comes to my mind is why the International matches even clash with club matches. You won’t find this thing happening usually in European football. It’s something that is seen in cricket. Even during World Cup matches, somewhere in Australia we see Victoria Bushrangers scoring 172 for 6 in a T20 match against Sydney Sixers. So what do we derive from this? Is football in India the poor man’s cricket??
A lot of reasons can be pointed out for this situation, but is it worth debating? The attitude will remain the same. Nobody in the AIFF seems willing to work for football, it’s just for the money. We football fans can only hope for the best.