AIFF’s inefficiency cost Gokulam lakhs: Owner

The lifting of the ban will allow Indian national teams and clubs to play in competitions under the aegis of the AFC and the FIFA, but it was a huge loss for Gokulam Kerala as it missed out on a chance to rub shoulders with the best sides in Asia. It had finished third in the previous edition in 2021.
Representative image
Representative image

NEW DELHI: Gokulam Kerala FC owner VC Praveen on Saturday said that the AIFF’s “inefficiency” cost the club lakhs of rupees after the national federation apologised to the team for its removal from the AFC Women’s Club Championship owing to the FIFA ban.

Gokulam Kerala, the reigning Indian Women’s League champion, was the worst affected by the FIFA ban on the AIFF as the Kozhikode-based team was not allowed to compete in the top-tier AFC club competition in Uzbekistan. “It is like pinching a baby and rocking the cradle. Because of its (AIFF’s) inefficiency, we lost lakhs,” Praveen told PTI, hours after the ban on AIFF was lifted on Friday night.

The lifting of the ban will allow Indian national teams and clubs to play in competitions under the aegis of the AFC and the FIFA, but it was a huge loss for Gokulam Kerala as it missed out on a chance to rub shoulders with the best sides in Asia. It had finished third in the previous edition in 2021.

The team was left stranded in Tashkent after arriving on August 16, ahead of its opening match against home side Sogdiana-W in Qarshi. Gokulam Kerala has written to the AFC to reimburse the money spent on the travel of the players and support staff and on their accommodation, but is yet to hear from the continental body.

“We have sent a mail requesting [reimbursement], but no response yet [from the AFC],” Praveen said. The AIFF, on its part, apologised to Gokulam Kerala. “#IndianFootball is back on track again after FIFA lifted its suspension on AIFF on August 26,” the AIFF wrote on its social media handles on Saturday.

“While we are happy with the turn of events, we are also extremely sorry for @GokulamKeralaFC’s exit from the AFC Women’s Club Championship due to the suspension. It remains #IndianFootball’s greatest loss in the last 11 days, and Indian Football owes an apology to the talented girls who had trained so hard for this event,” it added.

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