EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Kushal Das (AIFF General Secretary)

On the sidelines of the India workshop at the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester on Thursday I had the chance to speak to the All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das about some of the pressing issues.

How important do you see that in a Forum like Soccerex India is given an own panel, India comes with a large delegation and can show what Indian football is all about.

Very important! I think it really demonstrates the interest level which the whole world has for India which is very encouraging to see.

We have all heard here in Manchester a complete confusion about AIFF, IFA, PLS - the structure of Indian football. Is all this disturbing to you or are you rather happy about the international media coverage that Indian football is generating?

No doubt the coverage is good! As Jeff (Slack from IMG-Reliance) very right mentioned in the workshop it actually shows the kind of interest the world has for Indian football. But there are some misconceptions about the fact if the AIFF or IFA is doing the PLS.

You know as good as I do there is the problem of having two federations named AIFF and IFA, which has been in existence for a long time. IFA was set-up more then 40 years before the AIFF (laughs). What can you do? I don't want a civil war by forcing the IFA to change the name but it is causing unnecessary problems.

I agree with you but does his mean the IFA needs to change its name so that in the future there is internationally no confusion about who runs football in India?

I think I will have to discuss this with a larger group, maybe the AIFF executive committee. This is a problem and I would like to discuss this with the IFA too. But then they are our member association, a very old member association, actually older then us. So you have to respect their sentiments. But I realise that this is creating quite a bit of confusion.

India's bid to host the 2017 Under-FIFA World Cup has created a lot of buzz and interest in football circles. Could this be the one-off event which could help Indian football to get especially the necessary infrastructure which will allow the game to flourish in India?

I am quite certain about it! If this happens I think we would get the necessary infrastructure. That would be the best result from this tournament.

But we will also want an competitive Indian team, help us evaluate our development program and you know the program is working well. But most importantly we would get the infrastructure!

It was an open and candid conversation in which Kushal Das said a lot of things, which needs to be picked-up and discussed back home...

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