On the sidelines of the South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenge opening on Saturday at the Cooperage Ground the AIFF president Praful Patel talked about the situation surrounding the I-League. Praful Patel told the present journalists, "There is no problem with the I-League. It is being strengthened. The process of having a new arrangement is underway at the AIFF."
"I can assure you that the AIFF's endeavour, in association with the Asian Football Confederation and FIFA, is to strengthen the I-League. The I-League, in fact, is being looked upon very appreciatively by the AFC and FIFA. Within a few weeks, things will fall in place," he added.
A very interesting statement from the AIFF president if one keeps the current situation of the I-League in mind. To say the I-League has no problems would be really far fetched, then for the first time in it's 14 year history India's national league has no TV partner and title sponsor at the same time though the AIFF are working to sort out both issues asap.
Surely this years league is seen as transitional before the I-League will become fully professional from next season onwards and it will be interesting to see how many of the 14 clubs will fulfill the AFC Club Licencing Criteria for I-League teams. At the moment it looks likely that we will have a smaller league next season.
For me the question comes-up, are Praful Patel and the AIFF already focusing on the I-League 2011/12 and are just playing this seasons league for the sake of having a league?
If that is the case then I would surely say a big mistake. Then what has been reported over the last few days about the I-League, the AIFF plus the issues of TV coverage and sponsorship are harming the reputation of the federation and Indian football in general in a big way. And the AIFF's reputation isn't the best anyway, so it could harm it even more.