FIFA delegation meets city giants

September 15, 2017

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A delegation of officials from football’s world governing body, FIFA, visited the three city clubs —East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting — on Thursday.

The two-member delegation — comprising FIFA consultant Nic Coward and the head of AFC-UEFA Affairs Alex Phillips — were accompanied by the I-League CEO Sunanda Dhar and Chirag Tanna, who represented the Indian Super League.

The FIFA team met the senior functionaries of the clubs, which share a history of more than a century, and the president and secretary of the governing body of the sport in the State, Indian Football Association (IFA).

The clubs and IFA presented their views on the proposed amalgamation of the two leagues — I-League and ISL — in the next season.

Presenting its case to the delegation, East Bengal spoke for a ‘one nation, one league’ concept but remained vocal against paying any ‘franchise fee’.

“We are prepared to pay the entry fee if required,” said a top East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar.

The IFA sided with the heritage clubs saying that the clubs “should not be kept in the same bracket as franchise clubs for having taken the sport to a level when sponsors started investing in football,” said the IFA secretary Utpal Ganguli.

The FIFA delegation will be doing a market research after the visit and prepare a draft based on it. This will then be presented to the national federation, AIFF, after all the stakeholders of the two leagues have been given a hearing, it was learnt.

Meanwhile, Pierluigi Collina, considered the greatest football referee of all times, will be making a trip to the country just before the start of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

According to the itinerary, the former Italian referee will arrive here on October 4 to conduct a workshop before leaving for New Delhi to conduct another training of the match supervisors.

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