ISL gets official recognition

ISL gets official recognition
The Indian Super League has been finally granted official recognition by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), meaning there will be two national leagues in the country from 2017-18.

The franchise-based league didn’t have AFC recognition in its first three editions, and has been trying for it for a while now.

The AFC gave its consent to the All India Football Federation’s proposal through a letter signed by general secretary Dato Windsor John, a top AIFF official told PTI on Wednesday.

The change would mean that the winner of the I-league will participate in the AFC Champions League qualifiers, while the next ISL champion will be eligible for an AFC Cup qualifying slot.

If the 2017-18 I-League winners fail to qualify — no Indian club has so far made it — they will get an automatic berth in the AFC Cup, the continent’s second-tier tournament.

The AFC however specified that the arrangement was a temporary one and required the stakeholders to come up with a long-term plan.

The development comes as a good news for Bengaluru FC, who have so far been the only Indian club serious about the AFC Cup competition.

Having emerged runners-up last year, Bengaluru FC have made the zonal semifinals this time and will play North Korea’s 4.25 SC in home and away league in August and September respectively.

The champions of the 10-team ISL that will run for five months beginning November will get an AFC Cup qualifying slot. Till 2016-17, it was given to the winners of the Federation Cup.

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