The central government has cut financing of the All India Football Federation due to the poor performance of the national team.
According to the Indian Express, the central government has taken a stern view of the recent results of the Indian football team and decided to cut financing of the AIFF by more than half when compared to last year’s financing. In fact, funding to AIFF has declined by almost 85% in the past four years.
AIFF has seen a continuous decline in its monetary allocations under the Annual Calendar of Training and Competitions (ACTC). AIFF’s financing has declined from Rs 30 crore for the financial year 2019-20 (for an 18-month period up to September 2020) to Rs 10 crore in 2020-21. This year, AIFF stands to get only Rs 5 crore from the central government.
The central government’s decision is a massive blow for football in India as the cut in financing comes amid the rising popularity of the beautiful game in the country.
According to reports, AIFF officials made detailed proposals that were at least three times the sanctioned budget. However, the sports ministry and Sports Authority of India (SAI) were having none of it.
It is worth noting that the funds allocated to football are way less than what has been set aside for other major sports, including athletics (Rs 30 crore), badminton, boxing, hockey, shooting (Rs 24 crore each), archery (Rs 15.85 crore) and weightlifting (Rs 11 crore). Even sports like tennis and yachting will receive greater funding than football for the current financial year.
If we go by the minutes of the meeting, sports secretary Sujata Chaturvedi noted: “Considering the poor performance of the Indian football team, AIFF was advised to strictly focus on the development of grassroots-level talent.”
The central government will review the performances of the national team at the Asian Games 2022 and decide on entertaining any additional requirement of funds subject to the availability of budget under the ‘Assistance to NSF’ scheme.
Indian football has had a torrid last couple of years and the men’s team will be hoping to do well in the all-important Asian Cup qualifiers in June. AIFF has also set a target of at least reaching the quarterfinals of the Asian Games.