Mumbai: All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel swept aside threats issued by I-League champions Aizawl FC on Friday, saying that the Indian football federation would not be intimidated by threats.
“First and foremost, Aizawl were relegated in 2016. It was the AIFF that saw the passion and let them play the I-League as a special dispensation,” said Patel in Mumbai, on Friday.
“Aizawl did well, I congratulate the team, I congratulate the coach, I congratulate everybody that has contributed to Aizawl’s successful march,” he said.
However, Patel also argued that it was AIFF, who helped Aizawl FC out in the first place, by promoting them.
“It was the AIFF which has supported them. If it was not for AIFF, they would not be playing the I-League,” Patel said.
“Now that they have won the I-League, they will qualify for the AFC (Champions League qualifiers). Let them play. We would be happy to see an Indian club moving as much higher in the Asian ladder,” he said.
AIFF, in its original plan for the new league structure of Indian football, had planned that the Indian Super League (ISL) will be the top league in the country, while the I-League will be the second division. According to the plans, three clubs -- Bengaluru FC, East Bengal, and Mohun Bagan -- from the current I-League would be promoted to the ISL.
The situation becomes a bit tricky though, as Aizawl have now won the league, and are slated to take part in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League qualifiers.
However the 60-year-old made it clear that the AIFF will not the such threats seriously.
“AIFF works for the good of Indian football, and the roadmap of Indian football is yet to be decided,” said Patel.
“Today, as we talk, I-League is the official league of India. If they are the winners of the official league, why are they giving threats about something, and if they are going to threaten, AIFF is not going to be intimidated,” he said.
“Till a new roadmap is decided, the old roadmap continues. If nothing is decided tomorrow, the current roadmap continues,” he continued.
“Why is somebody (Aizawl) complaining? You can only complain when something happens, and you have an issue with that. You cannot complain on a hypothetical situation. And if they want to complain, if they want to shout, let them shout,” concluded Patel.