The iLeague is being killed, slowly, methodically, inevitably.
The IFA/AIFF are without a doubt the worst run organization in the history of India. Their level of incompetence knows no bounds.
For all practical purposes, they have already destroyed the Federation Cup, the Durand and Rovers Cups and the IFA shield.
All they had left was the iLeague.
And now they are abandoning it too.
They are deliberately not attracting sponsors, deliberately nor coming up with any plans, deliberately mismanaging things so much that clubs are forced to leave.
Pune FC and Bharat FC had already walked out of it. Now Royal Wahingdoh has followed suit.
Am absolutely certain that Salgaocar and Dempo are itching to do with it – what with their commitment to FC Goa.
In all probability, this year’s iLeague will be the last, from next year it will be only ISL.
By my calculations, Shillong Lajong and Wahingdoh will together compete under the NorthEast United FC banner.
Dempo and Salgaocar will compete under the FC Goa banner.
Bangalore FC, Mumbai FC, Pune FC will be standalone franchisee clubs.
There will be the ISL clubs – Delhi Dynamos, FC Kerala, Chennaiyan FC
Mohun Bagan will compete under Atletico de Kolkata as both are the champions of the respective leagues and East Bengal will compete in their spiritual home – Bangladesh.
That’s the twelve clubs sorted then
- Atletico de Kolkata (Mohun Bagan)
- FC Goa (Salgaocar and Dempo)
- Delhi Dynamos
- FC Kerala
- Chennaiyan FC
- Bangalore FC
- Mumbai FC
- Pune FC
- North East United FC
- Sporting Club de Goa
- Vasco Sports Club
- Mohammedan Sporting
You may ask about East Bengal and why they are not allowed to play in ISL.
Let me tell you about their history.
In India, football came through the Britishers. They used to play among themselves. When Bengalis wanted to play with them, they were kicked out. So the Bengalis formed a club of their own – Mohun Bagan.
In the late 1880s, a monumental event took place. In the area currently known as Fariapukur Lane in Kolkata, local youth set about establishing a place where they could regularly play their favourite game. This was done in the premises of a famous marble palace called “Mohun Bagan Villa”, owned by Kirti Mitra. A meeting was held which was presided over by Bhupendranath Basu, a well known lawyer. He & Jyotindranath Basu would be the first presidents of the newly formed club. In sync with the name of the palace, the club was named as “Mohun Bagan Sporting Club”. The date of foundation? 15th August, 1889. By a curious twist of fate, the national club of India would be founded on a date which would be the independence day of the nation several years later.
The Bengalis did not have boots, they weren’t professionals. But being true patriots and lovers of football, they took the fight to the Britishers.
Mohun Bagan won its first trophy in 1904 when they won Coochbehar Cup. In 1905 Mohun Bagan reached the final of Gladstone Cup and defeated the reigning IFA Shield winners Dalhousie 6-1, a British team.
In the face of huge discrimination and adversity, they persevered, and in 1911 Mohun Bagan became the first Indian club to win a major title, when they defeated the East Yorkshire Regiment, 2-1 to lift the IFA Shield. Most Mohun Bagan players played barefeet while East Yorkshire Regiment played with proper footballing equipment.
History had been created. This was not just a win on the field; this was a symbolic victory over the oppressors. A team of “natives” had embarrassed the mighty empire. The players were heroes; they were deservedly lauded as the “Immortal XI”. The players were carried on shoulders of the human wave which carried them from Maidan to Shyambazar. Religion, cast, creed was forgotten in celebrations. Legend has it, that when the procession was passing in front of Fort William, a Brahmin came, pointing to the Union Jack, he asked “when will you bring it down”. Shibdas Bhaduri replied, “When we win the Shield again”. Curiously, the second Shield was won in 1947.
Everything was going fine but then the fires of independence was lit in Bengal. Mohun Bagan was firmly behind the independence movement. The Britishers decided to divide Bengal into two.
Like all patriotic Indians, Mohun Bagan protested against that.
But a certain section of the population did not. They said that if Bengal was to be partitioned, then the clubs should not play in India but instead should play in Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan).
With that aim, they formed East Bengal football club. Disgusted with that attitude and to separate themselves from this heinosity, the patriotic Indian Muslims founded Mohammedan Sporting.
So that’s the history of the three clubs
Indian/Bengali Hindus support Mohun Bagan
Indian/Bengali Muslims support Mohammedan Sporting
Bangladeshis, ruffians and vandals support East Bengal.
This has given rise to the popular Bengali adage – Bhadralok (civilized gentleman) na (or) East Bengali?
Some misguided youth nowadays support East Bengal due to their marketing blitz without knowing about its dark history. These misguided youth are to be pitied, not censored.
Moreover East Bengal recently looted millions from the poor people of India via its front organization – Saradha.
And that is why East Bengal should not be allowed to play in India. They should go and play in their home of Bangladesh. That way, everyone gets what they want and everyone becomes happy.
With 13 Federation Cup titles and 4 National League/I-League titles, Mohun Bagan is the most successful club in India in major national tournaments.
Celebrity Mohun Bagan fans include Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Manna Dey, Jyoti Basu, R. D. Burman, Sourav Ganguly, Amitabh Bacchan, Satyajit Ray, Uttam Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty etc.
Because of their patriotism and history Mohun Bagan was given the title of the National Club of India by the government of India.
Anyway back to ISL
There is no doubt whatsover that the ISL is 1 million times better organized than anything by the AIFF/IFA. Because its private, and has a good marketing structure and ergo solid revenues, I have hopes for the ISL.
The ISL clubs have definitely smartened up, especially with regards to their marquee players. Last year we had Del Piero, Pires, Ljunberg etc who could barely move.
This year Elano, Malouda, Simao, Didier Zokora, Riise have been really really good.
Postiga and Mutu have remained true to their entire career and been crap.
Lucio is still ok.
Roberto Carlos and Materazzi played a couple of times, realized their age and went into full time coaching mode. Nicolas Anelka still hasn’t had that realization.
But its not the marquees who have caught the eyes- its the other foreigners.
Joffre has been playing well. So is Borja, Tiri, Nico Velez, Sony Norde, German, Gregory, Nato, Steven Mendoza, Chicao and Tuncay.
But the two players who have caught the eye are the South African Sameegh Doutie and the Canadian Ian Hume.
Hume is 30 years old, has had a fractured skull, was born in Scotland and plays for Canada – and is still the fittest and most energetic player in all of ISL. He was the MVP in last year’s ISL. This year too, his contribution has been invaluable.
Joining him in attack for ATK is Doutie, who is magical and can be named the South African Messi.
They are the testament to ATK’s excellent scouting and recruitment.
However, ATK has also recruited Mohammed Rafique, who is, without a doubt, the worst footballer in the history of Indian football.
All these foreigners are forcing the Indians to raise their games. Most importantly, they are being good role models and teachers to the kids.
Hopefully, it will lead to the emergence of a better group of players in 5 or 10 years time. I have no hope for the current shower of shite.
When you are down in the dumps, the only way is up.
India has, over the last couple of years, lost to such footballing luminaries as Nepal, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Guam.
If the ISL can develop a group of players who can prevent these humiliations in the future, then it will all be worth it.
The mascots are a bonus; I love that FC Goa one – Gaurdinho.