The 2018 edition of FIFA World Cup will run from 14 June to 15 July in Russia across 11 cities and 12 stadia. Some of the world's greatest footballers will display their skills and look forward to bring home the trophy. Moreover, Indians will enthusiastically watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup despite their team failing to qualify.
However, there is one obvious question which strikes the minds of all the Indians. Why didn't India qualify? Well, this question only revolves around their brains before the start of the tournament. As the tournament progresses, they forget about it and become staunch patriots of some other country.
We shouldn't blame the viewers. The Indian football team isn't skillful enough at the moment to take part in the football extravaganza. But then, how did they bow out to the skilled ones?
Here, we present before you the history of Indian football team in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
1950 FIFA World Cup
The 1950 Jules Rimet Cup is the only FIFA World Cup where India qualified. So, how far did we go? Well, India had qualified but refused to participate.
The World Cup participation was offered on a platter after other Asian nations withdrew. The Brazilians were so adamant to have representation from all the continents that they even offered the AIFF to bear most of the expenses. However, the AIFF decided otherwise and refused to send the team citing "disagreements over team selection, and insufficient practice time."
There are various legends surrounding India's refusal. One such myth is India refused to play with shoes. They caught the world's attention by finishing fourth at the 1948 Olympic Games playing barefoot. But, FIFA demanded them to play with shoes at the World Cup.
Now, playing barefoot was just one of the many reasons. The 1950 World Cup lacked the allure that it has nowadays. There was also the fear that if India participated in the World Cup, their players would become professionals. In those days, only amateur sportspersons could participate in the Olympics, and if they had taken part in the World Cup, they wouldn't be eligible.
If India had participated, they would have been placed in Group III alongside Sweden, Italy, and Paraguay. Moreover, we could have bragged about playing against the defending champions Italy. But, as that is not the case, we can only lament at the AIFF's decision.