The Indian government has reduced their funding dedicated towards the development of football by an eye-watering 85% over the last four years after stating the country's "poor performance" as the reason.
After the decision, a senior AIFF official was quoted by the Indian Express stating, “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.”
Indian Express further revealed that under the Annual Calendar of Training and Competitions (ACTC), football's annual budget was slashed, falling from Rs 30 crore for the financial year 2019-20 to Rs 5 crore for 2022-23.
AIFF had reportedly been asking for an increase of Rs 20 crore from their original budget in order to focus on developing grassroot football. But, the government has chosen to ignore these requests altogether.
The funds allocated for football are insanely lesser than athletics (Rs 30 crore), badminton, boxing, hockey, shooting (Rs 24 crore each), archery (Rs 15.85 crore) and weightlifting (Rs 11 crore).
It was earlier reported that News9 Sports spoke to AIFF general secretary Kushal Das after the budgets were allocated and he was astonished at the government's decision.
"I think it is unfair especially in a year where India is preparing for qualification to the Asian Cup and preparing for U-17 Women's World Cup. The sports ministry's (MYAS) analysis of bad performance is incorrect. If you compare the average year end FIFA rankings from 2010 to 2015 with 2016 to 2021 you will get the answer.
"The average ranking from 2010-15 was 160 with a worst of 171 and the average ranking from 2016 to 2021 is 108. A clear jump of 50 ranks in six years. Indian clubs are now playing in the highest club competition in Asia, the AFC Champions League and in its latest edition Mumbai City FC came second in their group (with seven points from six games). If that is not progress, I don't know what is."
Speaking about the popularity of football as compared to other sports around the world, Das said, ""It is completely illogical to compare a highly competitive sport played by 209 countries with other sports. The popularity of football across the world cannot be compared with any other sport. Instead of giving more support to make India a more powerful footballing country, it is strange the government is reducing support."
Revealing whether he plans to speak to the government to address the situation, Das concluded, "Yes, after June (the AIFF plans on approaching the government seeking a review of the amount). Fortunately, the AIFF is in a position to carry on with the preparations of the Asian Cup qualifiers and the U-17 World Cup. The Government has also assured that they will review the situation in a few months. If India qualifies for the Asian Cup in June, the thinking will change."