The meeting between officials of All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) and its commercial partner IMG-Reliance to discuss the final plans relating to the ambitious IPL-style football tournament scheduled on Tuesday has been postponed to later this week.
The IMG-Reliance is yet to reveal its detailed plans for the tournament and with the I-League clubs having refused to release players for the league proposed to be held in
January-March next year, the AIFF has told its commercial partners to give a final representation.
"The meeting will be held later this week though the date and timing is yet to be finalised," I-League Chief Executive Officer Sunando Dhar said.
The tournament, to be jointly organised by the AIFF and IMG-Reliance, has become the object of acrimony between the federation and I-League clubs who have hardened their stand on non-release of the players for the league.
I-League Professional Clubs' Association president Raj Gomes said they would not release players for the tournament. He wondered what would be the outcome of such a meeting.
"We don't know what can come out of the meeting. Because we are not releasing players for the tournament, that is 100 per cent sure," Gomes said.
Some players, who were inclined to sign up for the tournament that is offering big bucks, are in a dilemma whether to join it or not. They fear that if they join the
tournament they may not get to play in the I-League.
Matters appeared to have taken a turn for the worse with national coach Wim Koevermans reportedly describing the proposed tournament a "big threat" to Indian football.
The AIFF was quick to issue a denial, though neither quoting Koevermans nor any federation official speaking on his behalf. It just issued a statement saying that the coach had not made any comments on the proposed tournament.
"It's surprising for the AIFF to issue a statement like that. Ideally, it should have carried Koeverman's quotes denying what has been attributed to him or may be an AIFF
official speaking on his behalf," a top official of an I-League club said.
"The denial should have come from the person himself. How can the federation simply say that he has not said that? Can the federation also say that the coach has said something?" he asked.
The confusion over the tournament has also led to some players taking time to sign for clubs for the coming I-League season. They are hoping that the issue would be sorted out by July 31, the last date of transfer window.
"I will wait for a few days and see what happens. The offer is there from the IMG-Reliance but I have not decided yet whether to sign or not. I will take a decision in a few
days. If I have to sign for an I-League club I have to do it by July 31," said India goalkeeper Subrata Paul.
According to reports, former Indian captain Baichung Bhutia and ex-internationals Renedy Singh and Surkumar Singh, current players Gouramangi Singh, Syed Rahim Nabi and Nirmal Chhetri are among those to have signed for the tournament.
Image: India football coach Wim Koevermans speaks to the players during a training session.
Photograph: AIFF Media