After several informal discussions and deliberations between the Indian football officials and the Sports Ministry, the Indian men’s and women’s football team has been officially cleared by the ministry and the government to participate in the Asian Games.
“Good news for Indian football lovers! Our national football teams, both Men’s and Women’s, are set to participate in the upcoming Asian Games. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, has decided to relax the rules to facilitate participation of both the teams, which were not qualifying as per the existing criterion. Keeping in mind their latest performances in the recent times, the Ministry decided to grant the relaxation,” Sports minister Anurag Thakur said in a statement late in the day.
The teams participation was seeming unlikely as even though their entries were sent for Asiad, IOA President PT Usha recently said that the government rules will be followed thoroughly. The rules state that for team events, teams ranked in the top-eight in Asia will be cleared for the Games. while the men are ranked 99th in the world after recent successes, the women are 60. However, the men are 18th in Asia and the women 11th.
AIFF President Kalyan Choubey had held talks with Home Minister Amit Shah and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur for a solution on this problem. “AIFF It’s an important day for Indian football and a testament to our resolution to develop the sport in India… Indian football has been on an unprecedented rise recently and I believe this impetus will further boost our players’ morale in all upcoming events,” Choubey said.
India had not sent the team for Asian Games in 2018 but the pressure and the demand from the team and the fans to send the team for this edition of Asian Games has been high as Indian Football is on a high after the men’s team won the Inter-Continental Cup and the SAFF Championship. India Men’s team has been kept in the same group as Republic of China, Bangladesh and Myanmar and the Indian Women’s team will be with Chinese Taipei and Thailand in their group.