Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

AIFF drags players into Stimac row | Football News

By admin Jun25,2024

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) didn’t reply to Igor Stimac’s attack in 48 hours as it said it would but issued a statement on Monday, over 72 hours after the former India head coach’s comments, which said the Croat had misrepresented facts, concealed information about his health and that players had spoken against him. The statement begins and ends by defending the decision to terminate Stimac’s contract.

Former India head coach Igor Stimac. (AFP)

“The AIFF took the decision to terminate Igor Stimac’s contract for just cause, and in the interest of the nation and will continue to act to safeguard our football, players and the stakeholders,” the statement said. Saying “further discussion” was “ridiculous”, Stimac told HT in response to the statement that “FIFA will have the final verdict.”

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AIFF’s statement comes one week after it fired Stimac triggering an epistolary battle. Last Tuesday, Stimac had written back saying the termination was “without just cause” — refuted thrice by AIFF on Monday — and demanded compensation till June 2026, as per his contract, in 10 days. Failing which, Stimac said, AIFF would be taken to the appropriate FIFA platform. On Friday, at a long press conference, Stimac, wearing an orange India shirt, hit out at AIFF and president Kalyan Chaubey. He also said it was unlikely any big-name coach would take the India job.

AIFF’s clarification blames two former employees — former secretary-general Shaji Prabhakaran and legal head Nilanjan Bhattacharjee — for the termination clause in Stimac’s contract being removed in 2023. Prabhakaran, who signed the contract on behalf of AIFF, has challenged his dismissal in court.

“The specific instructions regarding inserting termination clauses favourable to AIFF were not followed before executing the contract,” the statement said.

AIFF also said increasing the salary to $40,000 per month from February 2025 to June 2026 was not cleared by the core committee which had only approved salary of $30,000 from January 2024. However, Prabhakaran’s mail to core committee members and Chaubey on October 4, 2023, sharing details of Stimac’s contract, mentions the increase. HT has a copy of the email.

Formed by Chaubey in June 2023, the core committee was a powerful body headed by AIFF vice-president NA Harris to oversee administration along with Prabhakaran. The committee has been disbanded.

The AIFF statement does not mention that the termination clause was removed in 2022 when, under the new committee headed by Chaubey, Stimac’s contract was renewed till the 2024 Asian Cup. The extension was approved by AIFF’s executive committee.

When he signed in 2019, clause 9.1 in Stimac’s contract said he could be removed if AIFF paid him three months’ salary. That clause was removed, at Stimac’s insistence according to AIFF officials, in the extension signed on October 4, 2022. HT has a copy of contracts from 2019 and 2022.

Accepting that the promise of a chartered flight to Abha City, Saudi Arabia, for the World Cup qualifier against Afghanistan was not kept, the AIFF statement said Stimac was “provided complete support” otherwise.

“Despite all the support, the coach always sought to deflect blame and according to him everything and everyone else was wrong and responsible for any given situation except himself. This sentiment was also shared by various players who had brought their concerns regarding Mr. Stimac’s coaching style and tactics to the attention of the AIFF on multiple occasions,” the statement said. The statement named no player nor did it mention when and where they had spoken.

Regarding GPS vests, AIFF said India missed training and playing without it for “approximately 50 days” but confirmed that it was lost in September 2023 and replaced on May 10, 2024 thereby adhering to Stimac’s statement of having to make do without the equipment for over 200 days. Used widely, including in Indian Super League, GPS vests measure health parameters in real time.

Regarding his heart ailment, which Stimac mentioned on Friday, AIFF said blaming it was irresponsible of the former coach. It was an attempt to “deflect the serious matter of his not having been medically fit to render coaching services and his failure to formally disclose the same to the AIFF.” Stimac had said he had a support of four at AFC National Coaches Conference last May, AIFF said. The actual number, as per the statement is between 13 and 16, the statement said.

Stimac’s conduct and string of poor results – after a good run in 2023, India were without a win in seven games in 2024 and failed to make the third round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers – had meant continuing with him was “unsustainable,” the statement said. With the September FIFA window in mind, AIFF had to act “in a timely manner” to start the process of getting a replacement, the statement said.

By admin

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