Known for his ability to dribble past the best of defenders, Portuguese legend Luis Figo is finding it hard to breach the obstruction posed by All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The national football body has declared Premier Futsal, which is headed by Figo, a five-a-side competition, as unsanctioned but the former Real Madrid star says the AIFF needs to have its priorities right.
Figo, in fact, had to step down from his position in the FIFA development committee, after AIFF wrote to the parent body, complaining about Figo’s association with Premier Futsal.
“For us, it would be great if both of us (Premier Futsal & AIFF) are on the same page. We are not asking for any sponsorship or money. We know that we are a different kind of a competition. What they (AIFF) should worry about is to promote football in the country and should not focus on us,” Figo told India Today.
“Our goal is to create conditions and platform for youngsters to play the sport. They have had issues with me. I was in the FIFA development committee and I had to leave the committee because the AIFF wrote to the FIFA presidency that I should either be in the committee or continue in this project. We don’t understand the real concept about this event which is a private one. AIFF made me the issue in another area and I had to leave the committee which was very important for FIFA and football overall,” the 2000 Ballon d’Or winner said.
Some of the biggest names in world football like Figo himself, Ryan Giggs, Radamel Falcao, Ronaldinho, among others, are associated with Premier Futsal, which is in its second season. India cricket captain Virat Kohli too has joined the league in his capacity as brand ambassador.
Figo understands that cricket has an unmatched following in India but he also believes that this country has a huge market for other sports which needs to be tapped. The Indian Super League (ISL) is another franchise-based football league in the country, trying to make it big with the support of AIFF.
“We are not challenging any competition. We just want to penetrate in a market which has a great passion for sports. We know that cricket is the No.1 sport in India but our idea is to promote the sport in the country for the youngsters and be a reference in this area. This is a private entity and it is very important to give opportunities to kids to practise the sport.”