Asian Games 2023: Why Indian Football teams are set to miss continental event despite nation’s recent success?

Indian football team
Image Source : TWITTER Indian football team

Asian Games 2023: The Indian Football team is likely to miss the upcoming Asian Games event in Hangzhou, China. The continental event will be played across various sports from September 23 to October 8 after it got postponed in 2022 due to COVID-19. The Blue Tigers are having big international events lined up including the AFC Asian Cup in early 2024.

The team recently tasted success in multi-team events. They won the Tri-nations Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the SAFF Championship in the space of two months. Chhetri’s men are undefeated in 2024 and have been on high this year. But the U-23 team of the country is set to be ousted from the Asian Games.

Why India could miss the Asian Games?

India could miss the continental event for the second time in a row due to the ranking eligibility kept by the Union Sports Ministry. According to a letter sent by the Sports Ministry to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and all the National Sports Federations (NSF), teams having a top eight ranking in team events among participating countries should play the Games. “For team events, only those sports which have achieved a ranking up to eighth among participating countries of Asia in the last one year should be considered for participation in Asian Games,” the letter read.

Meanwhile, the Indian men’s and women’s teams are outside the bracket. The Men’s team are on 18th among the nations under the Asian Football Confederation. The women’s team is at 10th. Notably, this is not the first time the Indian football teams might have to sit out. In 2018 too, both Men and Women’s sides were not allowed to compete on the same criteria. Since 2002, Asian Games witness U-23 teams in football events with three senior players allowed. The All India Football Federation was looking to send Igor Stimac as the coach of the team but that can be a distant dream now.

AIFF to appeal to the Government

However, the All India Football Federation will be appealing to the Government to reconsider the decision. “This is a decision taken by the government. So, we have to abide by it. However, we will make an appeal to the government to reconsider the decision as far as football is concerned,” AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran told PTI.

“The Indian team’s performance this year has been extremely encouraging. It will be a great boost for football, especially for the U-23 boys, if they get an opportunity to play in the Asian Games,” he added.

Notably, there is a provision in the instructions sent by the Sports Ministry to IOA and NSF. “Where, in the opinion of the experts of specific sports disciplines, and that of Sports Authority of India, participation of individuals and teams in relaxation of the above criteria is recommended with justifiable reasons, the same will be considered in the Ministry for appropriate decision,” the ministry letter said

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