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Football Players' Association of India formed
August 13, 2006 18:50 IST
Promising "fair treatment" for players, the country's leading soccer stars on Sunday launched the Football Players' Association of India that is also open to foreigners registered with Indian clubs.
A brainchild of striker Baichung Bhutia, who will be its president, the FPA plans to look after the welfare of players and educate and advice them by engaging professionals.
"We will function as the parent body of the players. We want to work with the national and state associations for the game's development. At the same time we want fair treatment for footballers," Bhutia, also a member director of the body, said at the media meet to announce the launch.
Any registered current players, including foreigners playing in India, could become a member of the FPA by paying a fee. For players plying their trade for clubs featuring in the NFL and premier division in state leagues the fee would be Rs 5,000, while those participating in the second division of the NFL would have to shell out Rs 2,000. District level players need to pay Rs 500.
"We want players to only concentrate on their game without worrying about their finances or injury. We will also come out with post retirement options including pension plans for the footballers," Bhutia said.
Bhutia said the FPA would support former players struggling physically or financially by organising benefit matches for them.
"We will see to it that future generation players grow up under a better support system. We will conduct local coaching camps both in urban and rural areas all over the country," he said.
Asked about immediate plans, Bhutia said "We want to organise some charity matches for one of the ex-internationals. We are yet to decide the beneficiary."
The FPA, which has been registered in West Bengal, also plans to give annual awards to the season's best player, coach and the most promising footballer.
Allahabad Bank has agreed to sponsor the FPA for a year and Bhutia said talks were on with some more corporate houses for support.
On whether current players would be able to devote time to the FPA's wide-ranging programmes, Bhutia said "That's the reason we have appointed a former footballer Sumit Mukherjee as our CEO. Also, we'll have professionals."
Bhutia, flanked by Mukherjee, India captain S Venkatesh, Dipak Mondal, Alvito D'Cunha and Samir Naik, also acknowledged the support and encouragement received from the AIFF and IFA.
"I've spoken to (AIFF president) P R Dasmunshi. He is happy. We've also spoken to several state associations, including Manipur. The response has been good."
However, Bhutia said that he was not sure whether the FPA needs former affiliation from the AIFF.
On whether the FPA would like to be represented in the AIFF, Bhutia said, "We want the AIFF and the state association to utilise our organisation in knowing the exact problems of the players."
He said the FPA also plans to work with the associations and the clubs on vexed issues like players' contracts and inter-state and inter-club transfers.
"These can be special areas of cooperation between the association and the governing bodies."