1. What it's NOT about
Mr Dato Windsor Paul John, presiding over the meeting, addressed the room to kick off the proceedings,
"I was involved from the beginning, so therefore it's only right that I finish this as well."
He knew that some of the recommendations that were about to be made were going to be seen as controversial, especially the part where the Indian Super League would be made the new top league of India, which was being seen as I-League clubs as a forceful relegation. So he set the stage for the bigger picture that the AFC and AIFF were pursuing with this new roadmap,
"We are very serious at the AFC about finding solutions and finding what is right for Indian football. So today is not about who wins, who's at the top, who's down, slots... no, it's not about that. I think we all need to be mature enough to see the big picture and ensure that what is good for Indian football through the roles that you play. Every one of you has been playing your role excellently over the past years, decades... nobody's going to deny that, most of all AFC. Because Indian football has been there forever, you know. So many big clubs, big names, big players have come out of Indian football. But, today's about taking Indian football to the next level. Where you should be. Everyone in Asia is working so hard, you know, to take their football to the next level... AFC wants to assist AIFF... show that you are also moving to the next level where you should be... think about big picture, think about Indian football. Think about what is good for Indian football."
"We've done a lot of work at the back to ensure that all concerns on what's necessary to ensure that all the stakeholders of Indian football are part of this reform. So no one is sidelined. We are fully aware of facts, figures. Fully aware of contributions. But, yes, we all agree that we need to reform. And one of the areas that AFC has been pushing through our club football on our part is to professionalize leagues and clubs, to take every one of us to the next level. Not only clubs but our leagues, our associations and also the AFC. And that's why you see that our first vision is to make the AFC the leading confederation... and all of us in Asia have to play that role in that path."
Here, Mr Kushal Das, the General Secretary of the AIFF, voiced his support for Mr Windsor John,
"It's about the reform of Indian club football. It's not about, as Dato mentioned, slots or who's on top, who's not on top. But I think we've had a lot of discussions on this matter, with FIFA, with AFC. As much as many people think that we have put the problem under the carpet, it was not the case. We have actually had very very strong discussions. And I think we believe that we have come up with a roadmap which I think is in the best interest of Indian football."
Mr Das elaborated on the AIFF's perspective of what the future of Indian football should look like, saying,
"I would again thank AFC and Dato for taking personal interest and coming out with the roadmap taking into consideration various aspects. It's not just about a wish list. It's about the commercial issues, it's about contractual issues. And we have to be realistic to understand... that commerce plays a big role in Indian football. And across the world actually, in fact if you look at FIFA's statute, one of the main aspects is commercialization of the game. So we have to be cognizant of that fact. And I think we have, with all the stakeholders here, come up with possibly the solution which would be for the benefit of Indian football... we have to find a sustainable commercial model and we're working on that. And again, I'd like to thank the partners, commercial partners FSDL, who are working with us to find that solution... I think we will probably have a very fruitful and successful meeting... we recognize the efforts made by all of you in Indian football."
With the preamble over, the presentation of the Indian football roadmap finally began.