Even before the controversy over the cancellation of national camp because of the Indian Super League (ISL) dies down, another issue involving the clubs and national team has cropped up.
Delhi Dynamos are mulling the option of releasing the national team players on their roster on October 5, one day late than the date All India Football Federation (AIFF) set for the players to assemble in Mumbai for their must-win 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup joint qualifier against Turkmenistan on October 8.
Delhi are keen on playing Robin Singh, Francis Fernandes and Sehnaj Singh in their opening match against FC Goa in Margao on Sunday evening and want to release the trio for national duty after the match. The Indian team is scheduled to depart for Turkmenistan early on October 5. Goa, meanwhile, have agreed to release their players on October 4.
The Delhi team has communicated their demand to the AIFF, who, for now, have struck down the proposal but said they won’t have any problem if chief coach Stephen Constantine agrees with it. “I have told them very clearly that if the coach agrees, it’s fine. If the coach doesn’t, it can’t be done. They haven’t directly spoken to me but what they have said is there is a flight from Goa that reaches Dubai at 10am (on October 5), from there they’ll catch the connecting flight 1pm along with rest of the team,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said.
Violation of FIFA rules?
Constantine has already expressed his displeasure after he had to cancel the national camp that was to start on September 29 after the clubs refused to release the players citing FIFA rules. According to the laws laid down by the governing body, the clubs are obliged to release players for national team duties four days prior to the match.
If Delhi release the players on October 5, it might be seen as a violation of FIFA rules. Das insisted it wasn’t just about rules but also about national team protocol. “Technically, if they board on the fifth, FIFA rule is probably covered. But it’s about the protocol about the national team. If we allow them, then FC Goa will also say we will send our players directly to Dubai. Others will start following the trend in future matches,” he said.
An email sent to Constantine seeking his views went unanswered while Delhi officials too remained unreachable for comment.