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WATCH -- AIFF officials question IOA's criteria, assure they're still trying for Asian Games clearance

THE ALL INDIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION updated the media today about the ongoing situation regarding Indian Olympic Association's decision not to send the Indian national football teams (men and women) to the upcoming Asian Games.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das and National Team Director Abhishek Yadav provided details regarding the situation, the confusion rationale behind IOA's action and the future plans.

Mr Das expressed puzzle about the way IOA handled the matter,

"There has been no official communication from IOA to AIFF regarding this till now... I had asked them to reconsider and they asked me to send a presentation which I did... but on 30th June they told us the decision had not been reversed."

The General Secretary said that the AIFF was still trying to change the sitution,

"We told them we are ready to bear the expenses for the teams... they are yet to get back to us."

There was a similar situation even in 2014 when IOA was reluctant to send Indian football teams to Asian Games but they changed their decision at the last moment. 

Das said that IOA's new criteria, which led to the football teams along with many other teams and athletes being dropped from India's Asian Games contingent, was confusing even to him,

"They want only those who were in the top eight at the last Asian Games, or maybe now... I am still not completely sure... Indian football should not be looked at through that criteria. In 2014 we were ranked 165th in the world, now we are 97th. We are ranked 13th in Asia, so we have made great progress in the recent years. We should be allowed to participate."

The AIFF officials expressed hope that reports on media and the reaction of fans would sway IOA's mind and the Indian football teams would be allowed to go to Asian games. National Team Director Abhishek Yadav said,

"We have a preparatory tour planned for Indian womens' team, the team is in camp right now... all that will go on regardless of whether we go to Asian Games or not."

Mr Das lamented about the lost opportunity it would be if IOA did not change its decision,

"We have 11 U-23 players in the senior team. Right after Asian Games we have SAFF Championship, AFC Asian Cup and AFC U-23 Qualifiers. It would be a great exposure for those young players to play in the Asian Games ahead of those big tournaments."

The officials said that they were considering speaking to the central government if IOA refuse to let the Indian football teams play in the Asian Games.

You can watch the entire press conference right here...

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