I-League: Rajasthan United to field 9 players against Round Glass Punjab in opener

December 27, 2021


Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/i-league-rajasthan-united-to-field-9-players-7690950/

Rajasthan United Football Club’s (RUFC) qualification to the I-League is a story of guts and glory. They qualified for the I-League on their first attempt and became thereby became the first team from Rajasthan to make it to the tournament.

However, they have suffered a setback before making their historic debut in the I-League against RoundGlass Punjab FC on Sunday. This was after the Jaipur-based club revealed that they have fallen short of players available for their I-League opener and will field only nine players against RoundGlass Punjab FC.

“RUFC qualified for the I-league on the basis of winning the qualifiers in October this year. An extended qualifiers season meant that the club couldn’t sign new players after qualifying for the I-league since registration had already closed for the players,” the club said in a statement.

“As big as an achievement the qualification was, it also left the club with very little time to prepare and put together a competitive team for the same. We retained minimal players from the qualifiers and sought to get better players for the higher league – seeing as the competition is undoubtedly higher.

“With the transfer window for the professional players closed (In Fact, before the qualifiers itself on August 31). This meant registering players would be tough, and all the transfers could only resume in the new year (From January 1).”

As per the RUFC press release, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has issued a statement citing that the teams who cannot sign new players must field amateur players until December 31. But the plans of the newly-promoted club were jeopardized after a new guideline from the AIFF.

“The statement said that amateur players signed on or before August 31 would be allowed to play in the league.”

It came as a significant shock to RUFC as they have already registered a majority of their players as amateurs, following the initial statement. “The RUFC requested the league to consider postponing the fixture to help avoid the embarrassment this would cause not just the club but also the league, our opponent, and Indian football overall,” read the RUFC press release.

The AIFF said as per its regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players 2021 (AIFF RSTP), amateur players may only participate in professional competitions (such as I-League) should such players be registered in the professional registration window.

“A decision was taken that only professional players would be allowed to participate in I-League 2021-22. However, keeping in mind the clubs being promoted from 2nd division, the League committee created an exception to allow participation of amateur players till December 31, 2021 if they were already registered with such clubs in a professional registration period as per the AIFF RSTP.

“Following the recommendation of the League Committee, the matter was referred to the Players Status & Registration, and the Legal departments for their necessary inputs, who acted as per the statutes of the RSTP.”

The AIFF said it’s bound to respect its own rules which are in consonance with the FIFA RSTP.

“The AIFF is not in a position to allow any amateur players registered outside the professional registration window to take the field for I-League 2021-22 till they sign professional contracts and register themselves as professionals in the second transfer window of the 2021-22 season which opens on January 1, 2022.”

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