AIZAWL, May 3: Things are yet to settle down as Aizawl FC fans are still basking in the glory of their club which against all odds won the I-League with the smallest budget in the league. Aizawl will now also play in the AFC Champions League and will do so for the first time.
However, the happiness is short-lived as there is very much a real chance that the people’s club will not be playing top league football in the country. There has been a lot of talk of the I-League and the Indian Super League merging and apparently the two bodies want just 3 clubs from the I-League to be part of the new League.
This decision which seems to be entirely economic will not sit down well not just with Aizawl FC fans but all football fans across the country who have relished watching the small team from Mizoram conquer India’s most coveted trophy.
The irony is not lost on Indian football fans who fail to see how a club that wins the top League could end up playing 2nd division football. AIFF’s Kushal Das has even come out saying, ”The 2nd division matches will be broadcasted live on TV, so, Aizawl FC need not lose heart even if they are no part of the top league.”
If it was one of the big clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, one has to wonder if they would ever come out with such a statement. It seems ridiculous to think that Aizawl FC has not earned its place in the top league of the country. With the way things are headed, economics seem to be the driving force of Indian football where the underdog story which emerges victorious ends up fighting for a spot which is thoroughly deserved.
Aizawl FC has however submitted its formal claim to AIFF and will hope for a positive response. If this fails, they will then write to the Prime Minister, the Union Minister (Sports) and the President of AFC.
It’s disheartening and discouraging to see such decisions by AIFF towards a team that has rallied throughout the season and brought immense joy to not just Mizoram but the entire Northeast which has never seen a club from the region win the I-League trophy. This fairytale looks like it won’t get its perfect ending.
By Jessica Passah (The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)