AFC chief Hammam asks AIFF to act tough against clubs

New Delhi: Concerned at Indian football`s
little progress in the recent years, AFC chief Mohammed bin
Hammam on Monday asked the AIFF to take tough decisions against clubs resisting professionalisation of the game in the

Addressing the media after chairing the third meeting of
the ad-hoc committee on Professionalising Indian Football
here, Hammam admitted that the profile of the game in the
country has not made much improvement since his visit in 2007 along with FIFA chief Joseph Blatter.

"Not much things are not happening (since my visit in
2007). It is almost the same. India has a population of 1.2
billion and it is a vibrant economy. Football is developing
fast in Asia but India is lagging behind. You should not
accept this at all," he said.

"Infrastructure is the biggest hindrance to the
development of football in India and frankly speaking I don`t
see much change in this aspect," he said.

Hammam laid the blame on the state of affairs of the
clubs and said the AIFF will have to take tough decisions if
the profile of football has to improve in the country.

"AIFF is not the only stakeholder in India. It is just
one of the stakeholders. It is doing a lot. The clubs are
resisting to the AFC professional criteria. It is natural the
clubs are resisting as they are not suitable to them. But they
have to meet the club licensing criteria if they want to be in
the professional league.”

"Tough decisions will have to be taken by courageous
people. The current administration in the AIFF don`t lack such
kind of people," said Hammam.

Delving on the past history of the game in the country,
Hammam said development of football in Asia cannot be complete
without India.

"Football in India has a long history. The first recorded
match was held in India in 1854, 100 years before Asian
Football Confederation was established in 1954 in Manila. You
have the second and fourth oldest tournaments in the world (in
Durand Cup and IFA Shield). But frankly speaking, India is
lagged behind the rest of Asia.”

"We in the AFC feel that no matter how much football
develops in Asia we cannot do it without integrating India in
it. India play a leading role in the development of football
in Asia. So we formed this Committee with myself as chairman,"
he said.

Hammam said AFC has no objection to institutional clubs
taking part in Asian Champions League if they form separate
commercial entities.

"We are not against institutional clubs registering for
taking part in AFC Champions League if they form separate
commercial entities," he said.