Support is growing for PIOs/OCIs to play for Team India
It has now been a week since India lost 1-2 to Pacific islanders Guam in the qualifiers and the discussion has been centered around the question if 'Players of Indian Origin' holding a 'Person of Indian Origin' or 'Overseas Citizen of India' card should play for India or not. Fans even started an online petition to support the PIO’s cause.
Surely other matters like India needs to play more international friendlies, give time to the inexperienced squad in international football and better preparations have also been discussed but the PIO topic has been widely featured in the media and discussed on social media.
One thing is evident, the support for PIOs to represent India is growing with more and more comparisons being made to recent opponents of India like Guam, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Philippines or even developed football nations like Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
But the question stays if the All India Football Federation is able to convince the Government of India to change its ruling on allowing non-Indian passport holders to represent the country in football or not.
The process needs to be simplified
Interestingly FIFA allows players to represent a country in international football even without the passport of the country if they can prove that their origins lie in that country.
Players like Michael Chopra, Netan Sensara or Harmeet Singh to name a few have over the years said that they are interested to represent for India, but except Chopra, no one has actually applied for an Indian passport though Chops is still about a year away from get hold of an Indian passport.
Another example is Izumi Arata of Pune FC, who returned to the country of his father from the country of his Japanese mother, but it took years for him to get a passport and then go on to play for India.
Let's all support the AIFF in the endeavour and push the Government of India in changing the concerned notification.