Santosh Trophy faces axe

Admitting that Santosh Trophy National Championships has lost its relevance, the All India Football Federation on Tuesday said that it was looking at the possibility of discontinuing the tournament.

“Santosh Trophy is not serving any purpose. From the footballing perspective, I don’t think that Santosh Trophy has much relevance. We have to look into that (whether to continue or not),” AIFF secretary-general Kushal Das said.

Das also expressed unhappiness at the way the clubs in the country were spending overwhelming percentage of their annual budget in buying players and warned that they will not be allowed to play in the next I-League if they don’t fulfil the licensing criteria by next year.

“Some of the licensing criteria is difficult to implement like having a stadium for each club. But certain things like youth development, proper administration are non negotiable. If clubs fail on that, from next year, the license will not be granted,” he said.

“Ninety per cent of the club’s budget are spent on players’ salary, that is unacceptable. Because of so much money spent on buying players, virtually, there is no money left for infrastructure development,” said Das while delivering keynote address on the topic ‘AIFF’s Vision for Indian Football’ at the India Football Forum 2013 here.He also took a dig at the critics for blaming the AIFF for all the ills of Indian football.

“Are all the ills of Indian football due to AIFF? AIFF is the most professional sports body in terms of administration in the country and this includes BCCI also,” he said.
Talking about some upcoming plans of the AIFF, Das said: “A residential elite academy for under 16-18 players is in Goa and also one planned in Pune. We will tie up with Football Federation Australia to look into grassroot programme in Maharashtra,” he said.

“We will also be able to publish AIFF’s four-year strategic plan in next month or so,” he added.

Das said the AIFF would give more attention to the development of women’s football.
“Another key area which we want to pay attention is women’s football. Women’s national team has much better FIFA ranking than that of the men’s team,” he said.
Asked about the status of India’s bid to host the 2017 Under-17 FIFA World Cup, Das said the federation was still waiting for government guarantee on different subjects.
“We are still waiting for the government’s guarantee which is necessary for FIFA’s approval. We are hoping to get the government nod before the dateline,” he said.

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