The All India Football Federation plans to launch official futsal league

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Premier Futsal in India has been criticized but before the founders of the exhibition league announced their plans, there was no announcement or discussion publicized in the press about an Indian Futsal League until the competition was created.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is working on a plan to launch an “official” league of futsal, a short variant of football which is one of the fastest growing indoor games in the world, multiple sources in AIFF and the sports industry confirmed to ET.

“AIFF members have been mulling over launching a futsal league as it is gaining popularity across the globe,” a person with direct knowledge of the development said. “It is also a natural progression for the federation after Indian Super League and I-League.” He added that it could be mid-2017 by the time things are in place.

Earlier this year, a clutch of entrepreneurs joined hands with Xavier Britto, chairman of Indev Logistics, to launch a multinational futsal league in India—Premier Futsal. The team got Indian cricket sensation Virat Kohli as brand ambassador (with a small equity) and former footballer Luis Figo as president.

But the launch of Premier Futsal did not go down well with the AIFF, which termed it unofficial and asked the state associations not to allow its players to take part in the league. In fact, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das sent out a letter to state associations, saying the AIFF is the governing body for “all forms of football, including futsal,” in India.

According to experts, the AIFF’s stance was similar to what the BCCI did to stop Subahsh Chandra’s Indian Cricket League (ICL) back in 2007, before launching the Indian Premier League (IPL). “We had some initial discussion (about futsal league), but nothing has been finalised yet,” Das told ET. He, however, did not respond to a mail sent by ET seeking more details. A mail sent to AIFF’s partner IMG-Reliance also did not elicit any response till press time Monday.

Premier Futsal conducted the first season with international players Ronaldinho, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Hernan Crespo, Michel Salgado, Alessandro Rosa Viera and Falcao, who played alongside Indian futsallers. Later, the management also announced its decision to make the league a biannual event.

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