By M.C. Linthoingambee
Sports is something that has been existing and binding us as social beings since time immemorial. There have been nothing but celebrations concerning sports which has the power to bind people together and stand as one. The time is now for numerous people (in millions) around the world to glue themselves to their TV sets as the FIFA World Cup 2014 finally kicks off at Brazil. Sports knows no bounds of valuation with even Nelson Mandela claiming that, “Sports has the power to unite the people’. Brazil is where individuals, teams, countries and the whole world are coming together to welcome the true meaning of “We are One” which inspires with the lyrics of this years FIFA World Cup Song with top names like Jennifer Lopez, Pittbull, Claudia making appearances on the world stage. With a little uncomfortable thrust that has embarked on the region with the viability of protests condemning the harm to the Brazilian economy, the host nation did prove their stand by winning the first qualifying match. The mention of the names are enough to spark shivers: Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo C, etc and this is just not the end of the name game with more to expect and more to come in the future. But where does that leave us? Leaving aside all this, does India ever have a chance of competing at these tournaments? Maybe, someday this question will be best answered if we ever do qualify for the final shows.
Although things may look a little dim for the Indian Football team to ever have a chance to go for big leagues given their current standing and management. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) affiliated to FIFA governs over the India National Football Team since 1948. During the peak of its success during the 1950s, India qualified to go for the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil but failed to comply due to the nature of the cost concerned with all necessary expenses. How long are we willing to lose in opportunities with the unfortunate events of granting enough sanctions for Indian Sports? We are a poor country with more beggars still looming for a day’s meal on the streets but we are slowly developing to gain the status of a developed nation. It is taking time since it’s not in a day to change the domestic value of a country over mid-night. With its FIFA ranking cornered at 154 today and its statistics records showing its highest scores at 94 in February 1996 and its lowest hour at September-November 2012 with the 169 rank,it is perhaps natural to give up the idea of India ever making to the World Cup. Rather than approaching the Hall of Fame we have reached a certain downfall in the past with the recent ban of the Indian Olympic Association by the International Olympic Association during the 2012 London Olympics and the corruption and embezzlement activities done during the 2010 Commonwealth Games hosted by India that has bought out a lot of illegal truths to the media. We are still overlooking that the fact that sports does not need a world of confrontation but a thrust of hardwork and modesty.
In a more realistic march we have come to the conclusion of ignoring the bye- laws of FIFA itself in the past leaving a memory of a shattered dream. Former Premier League footballer Michael Chopra found himself in this situation when he looked into playing international football. His father was born in India and he applied to the AIFF to play for the national team given he had a valid PIO card, however, the AIFF were told in no uncertain terms by the Indian Government that he was not to represent the national team. This ended Chopra’s dream of playing international football and also meant that the national team were missing out on the services of a player who had considerably greater experience (and skill) than the majority of the squad with which they had to exercise the probability of playing at the real game or simply picking the right players. These denials are a downright disappointment that tears apart the team spirit of real sports. Where does this leave players in the position of Chopra who wish to play for India (or other countries which do not have a dual nationality regime)? The stance of the Indian Government unfortunately places the AIFF in direct contravention of the FIFA Statues, this being stated under Article 13, Section 1A of the General Provisions (Members’ obligations), “Members have the following obligations…to comply fully with the Statues, regulations, directives and decisions of FIFA bodies at any time.” What could FIFA do to change the situation? FIFA has not been afraid in recent times to issue sanctions against its member associations for what it terms “government interference”. Most recently, the Cameroon Football Federation has been suspended by FIFA following the fallout from the elections for its President.
This is not the story of Gulliiver’s Travel but the reality of falling out on huge potentials. With a little over than a total of one billion population and being called the second most populous country in the world, can’t we make this work? Developing a game and certainly one of the highly attention seeking play of all time is enough to put us on the map. We can be those little people who are weak when left alone but when united even Gulliver does not stand a chance.