The beauty of Indian sport is its unpredictability, both on and off the fi eld. It’s a predicament every sportsperson and official lives with in this country. The All India Football Federation’s recent squabble with the U-17 national coach has bordered on unprofessionalism. It refl ects poorly on the federation’s ability to judge a situation. Coach Nicolai Adam is on his way out. With less than nine months for the U-17 World Cup, the federation should not be thinking about a new coach now. It should have been chalking out training programmes on the fi nal stretch instead. Charges against the German are defi - nitely grave.
But graver still is the way the federation mishandled the issue. Having coached the youth teams of Azerbaijan successfully, Adam’s experience of handling kids cannot be questioned. That the federation let the whole episode blow up into a needless controversy showed its short-sightedness. Initially, four or fi ve boys complained about his abusive behaviour, which is not rare among coaches, although use of the f-word is not acceptable when imparting sporting lessons to juniors.
However, it is disconcerting to note that the football federation did not know when it started. There were Indian support staff assisting Adam who could have pointed this out to the coach or the federation, if they thought this is unsuitable for our culture. If the federation did not know until a letter was fi red to them, as they claim, then it was their fault.
The federation should certainly have kept better track of what was happening between Adam and his boys. This means they either ignored warnings and lived dangerously or had no clue about what was going on. The sports ministry, which pays Adam and his employer, did not know the federation was sacking him until news reports came out. Ultimately, the way things stand, Adam has to go. But the image of the federation will definitely take a hit. So will the project to put Indian football on the world map.