In a Kicks For Free podcast ahead of Saturday’s Kolkata derby in the Indian Super League (ISL), Bhutia said All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chowbi and general secretary Shaji Prabhakaran had withdrawn the bid without informing the executive committee. Bhutia is a member of the executive committee and has over 100 goals for the national team.
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Who will win the bid (to host the 2027 Asian Cup)? Saudi Arabia. How come Shaji and Kalyan pulled out of the bid without consulting the executive committee? And now the Santosh Trophy is being hosted by Saudi Arabia. This must be investigated, Bhutia said, speaking from his home in Gangtok.
Prabhakaran denied the allegations. Without the approval of the executive committee, we could not withdraw the application, he said. The matter was on the agenda of the executive committee meeting on Nov. 15 but was not considered because of time constraints, he said. The AIFF then sent it out via e-mail for member approval, Prabhakaran said. Explaining its decision in December, the AIFF said it wanted to focus on strengthening fundamentals rather than holding major competitions.
Bhutia, 46, also said that moving the interstate championship to Riyadh — the first time the semifinals and finals will be played there next month — would not benefit anyone and that it would be a good holiday for officials.
Meghalaya, Servisa, Punjab and Karnataka advanced to the semifinals in a competition that began with 36 teams.
Bhutia, who lost to Chaubey in last September’s election, said he, too, was not thrilled with Vision 2047, a strategic roadmap for Indian soccer. The most important thing today is player production, he said. To do that, states must have a proper grassroots structure, he said.
Look at how they (AIFF) organized the under-17 league. They asked states to field two teams. That means the state associations don’t have to do any work, you just pick your two favorite teams and send….
Zone qualifiers were the norm and that meant more teams in the first round. Prabhakaran said the 2022-23 competition was just to bolster the roster for the 2023 Asian Under-17 finals. If the AIFF had waited until the states had completed their competition before holding the national youth
In the K podcast147252
Speaking on HT. he said it would be an Asian final. The Asian Under-17 finals will be held in May.
Starting this year, states will hold their age leagues in July and August, and the national under-17 league will be held in October and November, Prabhakaran said.
Bhutia said the ISL and AIFF should make sure East Bengal is not left at the last minute to get a bid. The East Bengal icon — Bhutia spent nine seasons for the red-and-gold team from 1993 to 2011, scoring 67 goals, including the first hat-trick for independent India in the 1997 Calcutta derby — said it hurts the ISL and East Bengal’s brand value.
East Bengal has fans willing to die for it. It has a legacy. So you shouldn’t treat East Bengal that way, he said.
Since 2020-21, when East Bengal joined the ISL, the search for an investor has resulted in their participation being confirmed late each season, affecting the formation of the team. Given the difficulties, ATK Mohun Bagan is starting as the favorite, but you can never say for sure in a derby, Bhutia said.