KOCHI: The Gokulam Kerala FC's women's team which reached Tashkent, Uzbekistan in the early hours of August 16, to play the AFC Women's Club championship after becoming the champion club in India is now caught in a no man's land after the ban on All India Football Federation (AIFF) by FIFA meant that the Kozhikode club would not be able to participate in the championship.
Gokulam FC Kerala was to play its first match against Iran in the championship, which is being held at Qarshi, Uzbekistan. In a last-ditch effort to see if the team could participate in the prestigious tourney, Gokulam FC has sought the urgent intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur. "Gokulam Kerala FC are stranded in Tashkent ow of no fault of ours. We request urgent intervention by @PMOIndia, @ianagthakur @Anurag_Office @narendramodi for us to participate in AFC," Gokulam FC tweeted on Wednesday.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, it said: "Our team reached Tashkent, Uzbekistan from Kozhikode during the early hours of 16th August 2022. On arrival, we heard through various media outlets that FIFA has banned AIFF and the clubs are therefore no longer entitled to take part in the international competition until the suspension is lifted. However, AIFF has not sent any mail or letter to our club anticipating that the ban will be lifted by FIFA within a couple of days. Our club's women's football team consisting of 23 players with an average age of 21 got grounded at Tashkent with disappointment coupled with distress as our preparation both mentally and physically went awry," the letter said.
The letter said that the women players and the club has been declared ineligible to participate in the AFC Women's Championship 2022 for no fault of theirs. "In the light of the above, we request PMO's good offices to intervene in the matter and make all efforts to revoke the FIFA ban and include us back in the AFC Women's Club Championship as the champion club of India.