Chennai:The new football league is nothing more than the old league, with a facelift and that the reasons why Indian football is in a mess.
The politics, the appalling state of stadiums, the bizarre schedule of matches, none of that will change. And the worse handicap is that our national football team is not some Chak De fantasy, but focussed only on players from a few states India's cup of joy filled to the brim after winning the International Nehru Cup for the first time in 25 years. It pushed up our ranking from 165 to 145.
It was a small jump from the bottom of the barrel.
The team qualified for the World Cup in 1950, stood fourth in Melbourne Olympics of 1956, was the Asian Games Champions in 1962. But today, the Indian team struggles to qualify even in the subcontinent.
India's new coach, Bob Houghton feels we don't try hard enough. We don't even send our teams for international exihibition matches, which are the best grounds to improve rankings.
''The major problem is that we don't play any matches. In 12 months you play 10 games. That's untenable,'' said Bob Houghton, Indian coach.
Even India's football captain Baichung Bhutia doesn't seem to have faith in the men who run Indian football.
''We don't have people with the right knowledge to run the game. We are not talking just federation here. We are talking about everything, from club structure to state association to everyone involved. After Nehru Cup we played two matches, qualifiers for World Cup. Unfortunately, we had one bad match and now we don't play again for five months,'' said Baichung Bhutia, Indian captain.
Another fall of Indian football is regional politics.
For decades on end, we have not been able to put together a truly national team. Even today, many states are not in the national league.
''After the start of the NFL, which started 10 years ago, we thought it will improve. But now football is fixed to a few states only, like Goa and West Bengal. Even Kerala and Mumbai are not represented much. Even Manipur is producing so many players but unfortunately even their team is not in the NFL,'' said Shabir Ali, Former India player.
Now yet another big debate.
Is our professional Indian soccer becoming too dependent on foreign players?
''You have to entertain people. Why should they buy a ticket otherwise? Entertainment is not possible without athletes and the skill of players," said Priyaranjan Das Munshi, President, AIFF.
''There are 10 teams in the league. If you leave out the goalkeepers, out of every 100 players in the 10 teams, 30 are foreigners. Which means that you have only 70 Indian boys starting up for top clubs every week. It's an absolute disaster to increase the number of foreign players. It's couter-productive to what I am trying to do,'' said Bob Houghton.