Praful Patel lashes out at Premier Futsal's ambassador Virat Kohli on Twitter
The recent telecast of Euro 2016 in India has been full of upcoming advertisements for the latest novelty sports in India have to offer; the Premier Futsal League. Its brand ambassador has turned out to be none other than the current talking point of the Indian cricket team and self-affirmed supporter of German football, Virat Kohli and he describes Futsal as “the T20 of football.” This has created some friction between the cricketer and the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the governing body for football in the country. Praful Patel, President of the AIFF took to Twitter to lash out at Virat Kohli.
To provide some political context to the issue in question here, it is important to highlight the rift between FIFA and an existing parallel governing body for futsal, the Asociación Mundial de Futsal (AMF). In India, the offshoot of AMF is Futsal Association of India under whom the Premier Futsal League is being established.
Problems between FIFA and the AMF
The problem lies at the head of the world football governing bodies with the FIFA and the AMF unable to see eye to eye on matters. Most countries affiliated with FIFA choose to ignore the parallel body and the sport that the AMF endorses.
Futsal is a 5-a-side football game that is usually played indoors. With attempts to introduce it to India, Virat Kohli being the face of futsal in India poses to be a problem. Firstly, Kohli is the co-owner of the ISL team FC Goa. Although the ISL is a private league not affiliated to FIFA, owners of all teams in the tournament are required to sign a “participation clause” which asks them to consult the ISL before engaging in any tournament in the country. It has since emerged that the ISL has informed its franchises to not be associated with the Premier Futsal League in any way.
Secondly, owing to the problematic nature that the relation between FIFA and AMF is in, it is embarrassing for India and for the AIFF (which is affiliated to FIFA) to have anything to do with futsal on this large a scale, especially since the Indian Super league falls under the regulations of the AIFF.
Praful Patel has taken a strong stance on this rightly claiming that any association between Futsal and the AIFF in India would cause strain on India's relations with the FIFA.
The Premier Futsal League was scheduled to take place between July 15 to July 24 with Portuguese legend Luis Figo as the president of this league. Following Patel's misgivings, a legal notice has been issued to state associations by AIFF vice-president, Kushal Das which says that the AIFF’s stand on the Futsal League would be “announced in due course”.
"This is to bring to your notice that AIFF is not involved with the proposed Premier Futsal League, the news of the launch of which has been making rounds in media in the recent past. The competition is neither sanctioned by AIFF nor is organised under the aegis of the AIFF.”
"Further, the organising body - Futsal Association of India (FAI) is not a member or affiliated in any way with the AIFF, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) or FIFA," the letter added.