Dear AIFF,

As the travelling West Indies cricket team in their tour to India garnered a well-deserved maiden victory in the last one day international at Ahmedabad, eventually ending up adding a little spice in the ongoing ODI series. But the fanatics of the beautiful game, in a country which is remarkably obsessed with cricket, had their heads hanging in shame by theAi??humiliatingAi??news which broke out on the eve of India hosting the premier South Asian Football championship in the capital. The shocking news about the fifteen members of a Division A side in Indore, namely Anand XI Football Club, whoAi??took up the responsibility to clean Holkar Cricket Stadium, ahead of the upcoming fourth ODI between India and the West Indies. The Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association had a daunting task of making the stadiumAi??handsome and make a striking impression on the visitors,Ai??as it was only their first chance in three years to host an India international cricket match. The MPCA actually appointed the Ai??football players, who won the Indore Football League recently, to do the same.

The most disheartening fact was that some of the state level footballers (Manoj Khare, Sanjay Nidhan, Rohit Girije, Ankit Chirawande, Vipin Chintamani, Tejkaran Chauhan and Sanju Chauhan) had to resort to cleaning up of the stadium seats for a meager 2.75 INR per seat in order to buy themselves a decent pair of boots for the game. Sadly, the players who recieved a colective cash prize of 5000 INR after winning the Indore football league, made more money at the stadium, than on the field. We often criticize and raise more than an eyebrow when the BCCI showers monetary accolades or goes over the top with the prize distribution to the national cricket players, but there is certainly a lot to learn from BCCI, if the state of affairs continue to tread the same disappointing path. The other associations, especially the AIFF needs to recognize the Success – Money lifeAi??cycle, at least in its initial stages.

There is no denying of the fact that how the game of football has alwaysAi??been important to our country and its national sports heritage. On top of that, there is no external attestation required for the fact that Indian football has seen tough and more than torrid times in past decades, andAi??people usually succumb to the fact that cricket is responsible for this unwanted change of role from a division A football player to being a daily labourer, but its not the case.

This story breaks allAi??the barriers and ends up hurting the sentiments of so many football loving hearts in the country, which is often depicted as a potential power-house of the game – in addition to all the other sportsmenAi??inAi??the nation.Ai??As a young Indian boy preparesAi??and laces up and go for his regular practice, such news clearly doesnt help their cause. Is this the plight of Indian football when players like Messi, Pele, Maradona, Maldini, Ronaldo and Cafu have either plyed their trade in India or are about to mesmerize young Indian hearts by playing on Indian soil? Is the federation doing justice to that unadulterated passion of football players? Respected AIFF President and the Honorable Secretary will have to answer these obvious questions.

Football Players to Daily Labourers! What a shame!


Just weeks after some of the members of the world cup winning national kabaddi team were caught on cameras, waiting for auto rickshaws on the road outside the stadium, itai??i??s probably time that associations and federationsAi??realize that they need to give back to the players, who make exemplary sacrifices and sometimes put their personal lives at stake, in order to pursue their passion for the game, and by no means, theAi??football federationAi??is an exception. Football has gained Ai??good volume of feathers in states like Goa, Delhi, West Bengal and Kerala, which are the usual power-houses in the country, but the dismal state ofAi??local football associationsAi??in other states was out on prime time TV channels and all over theAi??countryai??i??s print media last week, sadly for such a shameful cause.

“Indian Football has gone to a new low. We have a weak infrastructure in football and we work really hard to bring in new players to play the game and such kind of treatment was really uncalled for” – Tej Karan Chauhan, Anand XI.

Itai??i??s just a humble request on behalf of all the supporters of Indian football – the people who bunk their offices to go and watch I-League matches, the players who bunk their schools, colleges and play the game, the children who idolize Indian footballers and all the people who care about it, – please donai??i??t let this happen again. Please donai??i??t let the media get the chance to bring out the ugly side of the beautiful game. The crest of the Indian FederationAi??on theAi??top left part of the jersey is all what aAi??young budding footballer dreams of flaunting one day, but the biggest hinderance between that dream becoming a reality isAi??theAi??federation itself – it’s high time to wake up to the call before it gets too late.Ai??We hope Indian Cricket team prosper and scale new peaks, but please do not forget that there are a certain set of players whoAi??dulyAi??deserve at-least a heartfelt appreciation for their tremendous effort in keeping the beautiful game alive in the country.


Thanks and Regards,

A Heartbroken Indian Football Fanatic

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19 Responses to “Indian Football: An Open Letter To The AIFF”

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  1. Kirk De Souza says:

    all im gonna say is that i hope to c Bhaichung Bhutia or someone like him or even an ex international or olympian to b the president of the AIFF. no disrespect but politicians shld not b at the helm of sports (especially football) organizations unless their purpose in life is football.

  2. Rahul says:

    I dont see what exactly is the problem with football players choosing to earn some money by cleaning the stadium.

  3. harry says:

    How many indian cricketers clean their own kits .. Rahul you are a disgrace.. this is not some kind of a service that they do. of course had they been cleaning up their club’s backyard training ground it wouldn’t have matterd.. Hard times for Indian Sports.. I am starting to leave Cricket out of the sports bracket 😐

  4. Anil says:

    @Rahul,

    The question is why those players had to do such work. In a country where a cricketer who scored 200 runs for his national team is presented with a 10,00,000 cheque within 10 minutes of the match, why these football players had to clean the stadium after winning a local tournament? Why were they so desperate to earn money by doing such jobs?

    • Rahul says:

      Sure..thats a larger question as to why there is less money in footbal. However I am sure there are many small-time cricket team in small time towns too which are in dire need of funds as lets not forget India is a nation where a big percentage of people still cannot eat two full meals a day. The point is that the football team was not forced to work…right ? but they chose to work to earn some money…What I see here is the typical Indian feudal attidude that somehow thinks that cleaning stadiums is a insulting job….instead of having the more mature view about having “dignity of all labor”

  5. Amlan Majumdar says:

    @Rahul – “What exactly is the problem?” – well, the problem is not with players trying to earn money, the problem is with the situations that these players are put in where they have to earn money by cleaning a stadium.
    I wonder whether you would have asked the same question if Dhoni would have been pictured cleaning a stadium to earn money. Offcourse he won’t, that is unless he develops some weird hobby of cleaning a stadium, because he gets paid enough to a make a living through sport. But footballers are paid well enough, and thats where the problem lies.

    • Goan Blues says:

      Why are you comparing these footballers with Dhoni ? 😮

      Do you see Climax Lawrence cleaning seats in stadia ? No point in comparing captain of the national team with amateur players. Footballers who play in I-League do earn handsomely…this season Lalkamal Bhowmik demanded a Rs. 50 lakh pay cheque after having a good season. Ranji players get paid less than I-League players.

      AIFF leaves a lot to be desired in terms of administration but I dont think they could have done anything here.

  6. Amlan Majumdar says:

    ohh..that would be “But footballers are NOT paid well enough, and thats where the problem lies.”

  7. Rahul says:

    OK..guys I read the article again carefully..I withdraw my comments….Looks like the bottom line is why is AIFF tolerating such incompetent state football associations as that of MP and UP..that are totally pathetic and useless in terms of developing the sport.

  8. Goutam Sur says:

    Kolkata had shown the future of Indian Cricket recently and response of Mohunbagan East Bengal match. BCCI – wait, a day will come when no one will go to watch cricket match in India.

  9. Shobit Jain says:

    Well said KDS, AIFF should start thinking about their players too…

  10. Biju says:

    Guys I agree with Rahul there is nothing wrong and through our action we are affecting their livelihoods.. Guys understand our AIFF is not that rich nor the M.P football association. they are amateur body.India is a country with such a population that its not possible to take care of all football players.. I agree we should support them for that our system should change and proper incentives should reach to the players from respective state associations for that we should play proper beautiful football and for which YDP is the solution. so till then let them continue their struggle. don’t you guys remember the story of Providence FC. so stop worrying about them because there are lots of retired Indian international players who too are suffering like this.. so relax because Rs 2.75 per seat is their livelihood your actions should not take away atleast that meagre rights..

  11. Jose says:

    I remember the early 80’s when Doordarshan made its entry in the country. They were obsessed with only cricket. The seeds which the electronic media sowed then, they are reaping its benefits now. Majority Indians believe that sports starts and ends with only cricket and only when we win in cricket it brings national glory

  12. Shailesh Karkera says:

    Just getting the facts in place –

    >> The players have not been forced to clean the stadium. They have opted to do so.
    >> That they received a cash prize of Rs. 5000 for winning the Indore Football League is a failure of the local Indore District FA to rope in sponsors
    >> That the players do not have proper kit (or shoes) speaks volumes of the management of the Anand XI Football Club.
    >> That the budget of a district level semi-professional/amateur team is merely a fraction of a full-fledged professional i-League outfit.

    Bottomline, had Anand XI been a professional team of i-League pedigree with the backing of its state and district association, the players would never have had to opt for cleaning the stadium in the first place. They would all be with a one-two year contract with an average of atleast Rs.15, 000 per month which is basically what a local player earns in any decent district level club across India.

    Please understand that there are hundreds of clubs across the country dreaming of playing in the I-League, some with backers, sponsors and well-wishers and some who have purely a hand-to-mouth existence. I personally know of club owners in the MFL Elite Division in Mumbai, ironically the financial capital of the country, struggling to rope in sponsors despite the fact that they are giants in the local scene.

    It has been publicly stated that the majority of the players featuring in Anand XI are from poor backgrounds and double up as daily wage workers to supplement their livelihood so it is totally understandable that they take up something like a stadium-cleaning deal.

    Despite the way the media has portrayed this entire incident, I feel no remorse. This is absolutely not an issue regarding Indian football or the AIFF. Not that I am a fan of the AIFF but I have considerable experience in the dynamics of Indian football as detailed here

    http://in.linkedin.com/in/shaileshkarkera

    Thank you for your time,
    Shailesh Karkera

    • Rahul Saxena says:

      Excellent perspective Shailesh, I agree with your perspective. Though I sympathisize with the frustration of the author, this specific article makes a weak argument and not based on clear-headed thinking. If one is concerned about the financial aspects of Indian football..its far better to do do something like a ‘report-card’ on each state football association with a clear summary of much effort it has put in and progress it has made over the last year. That would be a far better way to bring pressure on state associations to improve rather than writing hyperbolic articles.