NEW DELHI: While there is no clarity on when live sports can resume in the country, AIFF has earmarked the inaugural Futsal Club Championship as a curtain-raiser to the new football season. Dates and venues are yet to be finalised, but the federation has spoken to a host of clubs regarding this.
Creating such a tournament was first discussed in an AIFF meeting last December. It was decided that Futsal Club Championship would be a part of the 2020 calendar, with June-July set aside as a tentative window.
“Prior to the lockdown, we had plans of starting the season with the futsal competition. We have a few tentative venue options in mind but have not zeroed in on dates yet,” an AIFF official said.
AIFF got in touch with ISL, I-League and I-League second division clubs a couple of months ago. “They were enthusiastic. Once normalcy resumes, we can start discussions on conducting the event. Standard futsal rules will apply,” said the official.
Details regarding player registration, number of teams, are yet to be decided but it is likely that the league might be played sans foreign participation. Shillong is seen as a prospective host city due to the low cost of hiring indoor venues there. ISL outfit Bengaluru FC and I-League’s Aizawl FC are among the nine clubs to have shown interest.
An I-League club in Northeast and a second division club confirmed that AIFF had approached them. “They asked if we were interested. We said yes. Details were not discussed and then the pandemic struck,” said a club official.
AIFF Technical Director Isac Doru has often spoken of the virtues of this format and how it could not only help young players play in a certain style, but also popularise the sport. India does not have a national futsal team, unlike many Asian counterparts.
This is not the first time that futsal has made news. In 2016, India saw Premier Futsal, a private franchise-based competition, which featured former stars like Ronaldinho and Paul Scholes. AIFF, however, never recognised the competition and even banned players who took part in it. The league ran into administrative hassles and became defunct.