The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Saturday issued a show-cause notice to senior men’s team head coach Igor Stimac for making comments construed as a breach of agreement by his employers. Hitting out at some of the ISL clubs for their unwillingness to release players for the national camp in preparation for the Asian Games, World Cup Qualifiers, and the Asian Cup, Stimac said if Indian football needs his help, he will need to tell the truth.
The former Croatian defender coming out in the open with his views didn’t go down well with the AIFF brass, as they sought a response from the coach.
“This is not just about the recent comments but it has been happening for a while now. He is in breach of his agreement with the AIFF. If he has any issues, he could have discussed it with the federation directly rather than going public,” a source close to the AIFF told PTI. “Let’s see what he writes in his response. Only then can the federation decide on how to handle the matter.”
Challenges Faced by Indian Football
Stimac had said that he won’t mind going back home if he is told that “things won’t change”. Stimac’s remarks came as the Indian team prepares to play in the four-day King’s Cup tournament starting September 7 in Thailand. The tourney in Thailand will be followed by the Asian U-23 qualifiers in China, where the team will also compete in the Asian Games starting September 19.
In October, India will participate in the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia, while the 2026 World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifiers are scheduled to begin in November and the Asian Cup in January.
Clubs’ Reluctance to Release Players
Initially, only 12 of the 28 players showed up for the U-23 camp recently. The camp was postponed once due to the clubs’ refusals to release players. East Bengal, Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City, Jamshedpur FC, Punjab FC, and Odisha FC were the clubs that did not release their players at the start of the camp, leaving the team management in a tricky situation and Stimac angry.
In August too, Stimac had “requested” all the Indian Super League (ISL) clubs to release the selected players for the long preparatory camp ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup. The Croatian had released a statement on social media.
Stimac had mentioned that Indian football is at a “crucial junction” and had urged the clubs to come together and support the national team, especially with the big tournaments approaching.
(This story has not been edited by Smartkhabrinews staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)