The government of India has slashed the funding of All India Football Federation (AIFF) by almost 85 percent over the last four years, due to what has been understood as the "poor performance" of the Indian national team.
The AIFF which has struggled financially in the recent past has seen funding from the Annual Calendar of Training and Competitions (ACTC) reduce drastically from Rs 30 crore for the financial year 2019-20 (for an 18-month period up to September 2020) to Rs 10 crore in 2020-21 and further down to Rs 5 crore this year.
The AIFF officials had reportedly asked for funding at least three times the sanctioned budget, though the sports ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) were not convinced by their argument as they believe that the federations developmental work has left a lot to be desired, highlighting the inability of age-group teams to make their presence felt at continental level and a women’s football programme that ‘lacked structure’
The performances of the national team and the ranking of the men’s side, too, were subjects of discussion during the budget meeting.
“Considering the poor performance of the Indian football team, AIFF was advised to strictly focus on the development of grassroot-level talent," sports secretary Sujata Chaturvedi reportedly noted.
“A review would be undertaken after Asian Games 2022, in the month of October 2022, based on the achievements in the Asian Games, 2022, for any additional requirement of funds subject to availability of budget under the ‘Assistance to NSF’ Scheme,” the minutes of the meeting noted.
“Despite the differential treatment by the government, the AIFF has not compromised on any activity for the senior and junior teams, both men and women. However, it is surprising that a mass sport like football gets less funding compared to other sports that are nowhere close in terms of participation numbers and competitiveness," an AIFF official said as quoted by The Indian Express.