AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey points out missed opportunities in the past

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Kalyan Chaubey

All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Kalyan Chaubey highlighted the misplaced priorities of India’s past, focusing only on participation in the Olympics and Asian Games. He suggested that this may have led to India “missing the bus” and currently languishing near the bottom of the world game.

Kalyan Chaubey on missing important opportunities in the past

From 1947-1960, India regularly qualified for four Olympics and was considered an Asian powerhouse. However, Chaubey, a former India goalkeeper, noted that India fell behind in the early 1990s. He recalled seeing India below 90 in the rankings during his playing days.

Chaubey pointed out that if India had participated in the 1950 World Cup, they would have faced top-ranked nations and would not have fallen behind. The reason for India’s non-participation in the 1950 World Cup, despite qualifying, has been a controversial topic. Chaubey revealed that India’s priority at that time was on the Asian Games in Delhi (1951), where they won a gold medal.

According to Chaubey, India did not participate in the 1950 World Cup because they were hosting the Asian Games in Delhi in 1951. They did not want to travel three months by ship and did not give importance to the World Cup. He suggested that India may have missed the bus because of the focus only on the Asian Games and Olympics from 1950-74.

Chaubey claimed that World Cups were not popular in those days, and it was only after seeing Diego Maradona on television in 1986 that India got attracted to the quadrennial football showpiece. By then, the golden period of the 1970s was over, and it slipped out of prime time, leading to India missing the bus.

The AIFF chief admitted that the country will have to make an extra effort to catch up with other countries. He said, “So we have to give extra effort to make up for it. There is no overnight magic formula. It’s a big country, and there is a lot of room for improvement”.

In addition to highlighting past misplaced priorities, Chaubey also called for action against age fudging. He emphasized the need to stop the menace of overage and age-fudging, which could be achieved through science or by raising awareness. He suggested that the TW3 medical test could be made mandatory.

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