Showing chief coach Stephen Constantine his place, All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel said on Friday that the Englishman is ‘not the custodian of the game in India’ and is responsible only for the national team.
Patel also rebuffed Constantine’s idea of including Indian-origin players in the national team, saying law of the land cannot be changed for one football team.
Following India’s defeat to Guam in a World Cup qualifier match in June, Constantine and the AIFF have pushed for the inclusion of PIOs in the national team.
The AIFF had also written to FIFA to know if OCI card holders can be permitted to play for a national team. The world governing body replied in the negative, saying a player has to hold passport of the country he is representing.
Constantine has been critical of the government’s policy, insisting that the country is at war in a football sense considering most other countries are taking advantage of FIFA’s heritage rule. Asked about the national team’s dismal performances in the last few years, Patel said the AIFF is ‘doing whatever is best possible.’
“But we cannot create a footballer overnight. Our coach has mentioned we should get Indians living abroad. We cannot do it. We have a law of the land and it is not going to be changed for one football team. Some suggestions are given here and there, which sound nice but are practically not possible,” Patel said.
Constantine has also been critical of the inability to establish one league in the country, with the ongoing tussle between the ISL and I-League.
Patel’s piece of advice
In a reminder to the coach of his duties, Patel said everything Constantine says should not be listened to. “(sic) Mr Constantine is not the custodian of Indian football. He is the custodian of the Indian national team. But one ISL season has not changed Indian football. He was the coach earlier also.
Please don’t listen to everything that the coach says. Whatever he needs we will give him. He has been given all the freedom and whatever talent is available, it is there for the coach to pick,” Patel said.
The AIFF president also mentioned they have written to the German Football Association, requesting them to allow the team preparing for the U-17 World Cup to play in the junior Bundesliga.