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Luis Figo’s futsal Premier League hits roadblocks

Luis Figo’s dream of introducing the five-a-side variant of soccer—futsal—to India may be still-born.

English: Luís Figo

LuísFigo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Portuguese ex-footballer was in the country to sell his new venture Premier Futsal as its president.

The 10-day event is scheduled to begin in mid-July and will consist of eight city franchises whose squads will have 56 international players and 40 Indians.

Each side would have three international players, one international marquee soccer player and one Indian player.

Each squad would have 12 players.

The eight chosen cities are: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad and Goa.

Figo said:

“It’s a new challenge and adventure I have taken up which I hope to make as a success and that s why I said yes to this new project.

People love soccer and cricket out here. India has a huge population, a huge market and it offers a huge opportunity for doing sports events with great success. I am doing something positive for the sport and the country and my experience as a soccer player will hopefully help me in this development.

Back in Portugal I have played futsal extensively growing up which instilled quick thinking, skills and close control.”

The proposed league hit a speed-breaker when the world body FIFA wrote to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) claiming that the Futsal Association of India is a non-affiliated group and thus the Futsal League is not sanctioned by them.

Futsal is played mainly indoors and consists of two halves of 20 minutes each.

The main differences between traditional soccer and futsal are listed below:



Futsal (Five-a-Side Soccer)

#5 Ball   #4 Ball – 30% less bounce
11 players   5 players
3 substitutions   Unlimited “flying” substitutions (12 Players on a Team)
Throw-in   Kick-in
Running Clock   Stopped Clock
45 minute halves   20 minute halves
No time-outs   1 time-out per half
Goal kicks   Goal Clearance (throw)
Some contact   No shoulder charges or sliding tackles
No absolute time limit to restart game   4-second rule on restarts
Offside Rule   No Offside Rule
Goalkeeper steps   No restrictions, but limited to 4 seconds
Goalkeeper cannot touch by hand a ball kicked back   Goalkeeper cannot touch by hand a ball played back
Unlimited back passes to Goalkeeper   One back pass to Goalkeeper
No sub for player sent off   Player sent off can be substituted for after 2 minutes or other has scored
Corner kick placed in arch   Corner kick placed on corner

The Futsal Association of India (FAI) was formed in 2007.

Namdev Shirgaonkar is the former president of the organization.

They are affiliated with Association Mundial de Futsal (AMF) since 2011. They claim to be Founder Members of Confederation of Asian Futsal (CAFS).

FIFA World Cups for Futsal have been held since 1989 and the next is scheduled in Bogota, Colombia this year.

FIFA has competition from the Asociación Mundial de Fútbol de Salón (AMF) which was founded in July 1971.

Futsal tournaments as organised by AMF predate any tourneys organised by FIFA.

The promoters FAI have probably foreseen opposition from FIFA and AIFF. Talent will be scouted from all over India for the league; it’s unlikely that existing AIFF players will participate in big numbers lest they fall foul of their parent body.

We can only hope that budding footballers are not penalised for being part of this league much like players in the now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL) were.

If the concept takes off, expect the AIFF to consider floating a rival franchise.

Futsal , if it succeeds, could very well popularise the game further in the country making it more accessible to the masses. We could very well see Futsal leagues mushrooming nationwide and schools, colleges and universities taking part enthusiastically.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – I

Should the Supreme Court ratify the Lodha Committee’s proposals to the BCCI and should they be accepted in its entirety, then the panel would have achieved what the proposed National Sports Federation bill could not. The BCCI honchos may crib and cry as much as they want but they have only themselves to blame at being forced to turn over a new leaf given their lackadaisical responses to the scandals that plagued the IPL.

Shashank Manohar may have tried to clean up the Augean stables with his conflict of interest proposals but the Lodha commission have handed him an unambiguous mandate of dragging the national cricketing body into the 21st century with its dynamic suggestions.

The first reaction within the BCCI was to oppose all recommendations except the one of legalizing betting.

Surprisingly or perhaps not, betting is a state matter and thus does not actually come under the ambit of the BCCI.

In 2006, the BCCI had suggested to the central government to make sports betting legal in the country.

A former BCCI secretary said:

“The taboo that is attached to the whole thing prevents the government to nod in the affirmative. You can’t compare India with Europe or the US. The socio-economic structures are different. Interpretations of moral values are different. So it’s very difficult to convince the government that such a measure is absolutely necessary. And even if people are convinced, who will bell the cat?”

The Lodha report itself is divided into ten chapters each addressing different aspects on the running of the BCCI.

While the recommendations may seem harsh and shed light on the limitations of  the BCCI in its current avatar, the commission had this to add:

“We hasten to add a word of caution lest there be a negative impression created about the BCCI. During our interactions, one fact that emerged uniformly concerned the way the manpower of the BCCI organizes the actual game and its competitions across the country. The organisation has still managed to harvest talent and ensure that the national teams perform remarkably on the world stage. Talented players from virtually any corner of this vast nation are in a position to compete and reach the highest levels, even if they come from relatively modest backgrounds. Recent years have borne evidence with India winning the World Cup in T-20 and One Day Internationals, while also reaching the top of the Test rankings.

The BCCI staff members have ensured that hundreds of matches along with match officials are organized annually at all levels, and that updates are provided so that the BCCI remains fully informed. The management of the game is also self-sufficient without any governmental grants. We notice the BCCI also conducts charity matches for national causes and humanitarian assistance is also given to the former cricketers and their families.

The Committee has therefore consciously ensured that no measures are recommended that would interfere or limit the good work being done on behalf of the BCCI. “

The Commission also said that they applied two tests to every issue:

“Whether this will benefit the game of cricket?”


“What does the Indian cricket fan want?”

Chapter One:

This  pertains to the structure and constitution of the BCCI.

The problems listed were:

  1. Not all States are represented on the BCCI
  2. Some States are over-represented
  3. Some members do not represent territories
  1. Some members neither play matches nor represent territories
  2. Union Territories are unrepresented on the Board
  3. Ad-hoc creation of Membership categories
  4. Arbitrary addition and removal of associations

There was a concern earlier that the state associations of Gujarat and Maharashtra would suffer should the one-state, one-member rule come into effect. That is not the case.

There will be one state association and thus one full member and the other state associations would continue as associate members without voting rights but would continue to field separate teams in the national competition.

There will also be no further affiliate or future members.

Union territories, too, are to be made full members as per the discretion of the BCCI.

The Services, Railways and Universities will no longer be full members but associates.

Clubs such as the Cricket Club of India (CCI) and National Cricket Club (NCC) too are to be declassified and made associate members since they do field cricket teams.


While at first appearances, this appears to be a clear and fair readjustment of the structure and constitution of the BCCI, this also allows the smaller states of the North-East and Union territories considerable leverage within the BCCI when it comes to electing officials to the Board. FIFA too operates under similar rules and the likes of Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter used this to their advantage by promising and delivering benefits to members from Asia and Africa that helped promote the game, yes, but also assured their uninterrupted reign in FIFA’s corridors of power. Isn’t it possible that a similar scenario may play out within the BCCI with the smaller states using their voting power to secure their share of the spoils in exchange for their votes?

 To be continued…


Mirror Girls Soccer League begins in Mumbai on Saturday

Girls playing Soccer.

Girls playing Soccer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mumbai Mirror is writing a new chapter in women’s soccer—nay, girl’s soccer—in Mumbai.

The tabloid—in concert with Western India Football Association (WIFA) and Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA)—has organised a Girls Soccer League beginning this Saturday at the Cooperage.

Over 100 teams are participating. The aim is to promote the game at the grassroots.

WIFA CEO Henry Menezes said:

“WIFA has successfully conducted coach education and grassroot programmes. It is important to get such an event for the kids to display their talent, especially girls. Even at national level our girls have started to do much better than boys.
Hopefully once this becomes a success, this tournament will become a year-on affair.
We are getting non-stop enquiries. It is so promising. It will be hard to accommodate everybody. But look at the interest. It’s tremendous. We need to set up trend with this tournament.”

The rink tournament is five-a-side.

NGOs, private clubs, local sides and, of course, schools will take part in three categories:

Under-14, Under-16 and Open.

The Mirror Girls Soccer League will be one of the largest sporting events dedicated solely to the fairer sex.

The Mumbai Mirror is a part of the Times of India group of publications.

Football (Soccer ball)

Football (Soccer ball) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women’s soccer is played in 176 countries internationally.

It is a little known fact that women’s football was banned by the British Football Association in 1921 on the grounds that it was distasteful.

This led to the formation of the English Ladies Football Association. Matches were played on rugby grounds.

The FA’s ban was finally lifted in 1971.

The first FIFA Women’s World Cup was held in 1991.

Women players do not make as much money as the men; their earnings on the average are a seventh of their male counterparts.

Coverage of the sport, too, is minuscule.

According to an article in the Guardian, “stories about men’s sports outnumbered those about women’s sports by 20 to one in March 2013 in six national titles – the Sun, Mirror, Times, Telegraph, Mail and Express.”

Jane Martinson wrote:

“The arguments usually put forward for the lack of coverage is that no one is interested in women’s sport, yet the interest shown on social media and among TV viewers suggests otherwise. Women’s football got its own series on BBC2 for a bit, while the women’s football World Cup final of 2011 was at the time the most-tweeted event in the history of Twitter.

Previous research has shown that sports journalism has one of the lowest percentages of female journalists, with a Women in Journalism study three years ago revealing that just 3% of all sport stories in a given month were written by women.”

English: Girl playing soccer

English: Girl playing soccer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Their cause was not helped by FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s comments in 2004 when he said:

“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts.

Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?”

The remarks only highlighted Blatter’s ignorance.

Pauline Cope, the then England and Charlton goalkeeper, responded:

“We don’t use a lighter ball for one thing, and to say we should play football in hotpants is plain ridiculous.

It’s completely irresponsible for a man in a powerful position to make comments like this.”

Then Fulham manager Marieanne Spacey added:

“Surely it’s about skill and tactical ability first and how people look second. Ten years ago we did play in tighter shorts. Nobody paid attention then.”

Movies like ‘Bend it like Beckham’ have engendered interest in the sport amongst young girls over the past decade.

The Indian women are ranked 56 as against the men who are a lowly 167.

With some luck, hard work and better organization, India could have a women’s team representing the country at the FIFA Women’s World Cup much before the men.

That would really be something. Wouldn’t it?

Disclaimer: The writer is in no way connected or associated with Mumbai Mirror or its sister publications.

Soccer: Sebastian Ariosa beats cancer and club Olimpia

It’s not okay to be seriously ill when contracted out to a soccer club.

At least, that’s what Paraguayan club Olimpia seemed to believe when it suspended Uruguayan Sebastian Ariosa’s contract when the player chose to undergo chemotherapy for a chest tumour.

The defender had a five-year contract with the club beginning 2011.

The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) ruled in Ariosa’s favour awarding him 7% of his contract value ($60,000) as “moral damages” and $90,000 as sporting compensation for his team’s lack of “sportive ethics”.

This is as against an earlier FIFA edict that the Uruguayan’s contract should be paid out in full.

Both sides appealed to CAS; the Uruguayan sought other compensation.

Club officials had demanded his return to training from Uruguay while he was undergoing treatment there.

Alexandra Gomez, a lawyer for the global players’ union FIFPro, said:

“We see this as a great result. CAS stated that the club was not responsible for the condition of the player, but it was responsible for its own response to this situation.”

The court has also ordered the club to pay Ariosa his overdue salary plus interest as well as a 13th month accrued over the term of his agreement.

FIFPro , in its statement , said:

“FIFPro is pleased to announce a major legal victory has been awarded to Uruguayan footballer, Sebastian Ariosa.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found Paraguayan outfit, Club Olimpia, breached almost all of its obligations toward Ariosa, including a blatant attempt to exploit the player’s incapacity to work after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Such is the significance of this case, CAS awarded ‘moral damage’ to Ariosa, which is extremely rare. It stems from Club Olimpia’s appalling behaviour to suspend the player at a time when he was suffering greatly, fighting for his life and dealing with the effects of chemotherapy.”

FIFPRO added:

“Olimpia was in breach on all counts. Its response was to stop paying and suspend Ariosa, while demanding that the player return to training in the midst of his treatment. This behaviour corresponds with the two requirements which the tribunal considered in order to grant moral damage; exceptionality and severity.”

Ariosa now turns out for national side, Defensor Sporting.



Q & A with Vladmir Putin (Humour)

Is FIFA President Sepp Blatter guilty of corruption?

No, Sepp is a good friend of mine and everyone knows I have never indulged in nepotism or cronyism.

Why do you wish to award Sepp a Nobel Prize?

Any man who can wield influence over 160+ nations and can get them to work together deserves a Nobel Prize. It doesn’t matter that he has to make promises of infrastructure and funds to some of them, but that’s beside the point. He’s a bloody genius. And look at the way he keeps getting elected over and over again. I wish I could say that of the Russian people; I have to jail my opponents instead.

Which Nobel prize would you gift the man?

The Nobel Peace Prize, of course.

Wouldn’t you prefer to receive the Nobel prize instead?

Are they handing out Nobels for hosting Winter Games and soccer World Cups? The Ukraine problem doesn’t look that good on my CV.

Who’s your preferred candidate as the next FIFA president?

Sepp, Sepp, Sepp!

Disclaimer: The personalities are real, but the quotes are made up. But you knew that already, didn’t you?




Soccer: FIFA’s Sepp Blatter and corruption in high places

Português: Joseph Blatter, da Fifa, fala à imp...

Português: Joseph Blatter, da Fifa, fala à imprensa após audiência com o presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, no Palácio do Planalto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sepp Blatter has resigned.

The FIFA boss quit—perhaps—in anticipation of charges being filed against him by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The man—apparently—knows when the going is good.

Is this a victory for sports enthusiasts everywhere? For sportspersons? For anti-graft activists? For the UEFA?

The European body considered boycotting the  2018 World Cup in Russia; they managed to rope in a few South American nations as well.

All said and done, whatever the reasons, the news comes a breath of fresh air in the pungent, acrid atmosphere of world sports administration.

India is no stranger to corruption in sporting high places.

Suresh Kalmadi and N Srinivasan are names that roll off the tip of one’s tongue.

Is it time that sports administration became bodies for sportspersons, of sportspersons, by sportspersons?

Most budding sportsstars are now trained from an early age how to handle the media and their intrusions and inane quibbles. Is it too much to expect the sports academies of now and the future to also train them in sports administration and its intricacies?

Is this an utopian concept?

There are no difficult answers. Just difficult questions.

English: FBI agents from the Washington Field ...

English: FBI agents from the Washington Field Office with one of the tactical vehicles they had standing by for the 2009 Presidential Inauguration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FIFA World Cup 2014: Suarez exits and so do Uruguay, It’s Brazil versus Colombia

Luis Suarez celebrates his Gol to put Uruguay ...

Luis Suarez celebrates his Gol to put Uruguay 1 – Netherlands 0 – Take 2 | 110608-6714-jikatu (Photo credit: jikatu)

It’s official. The first quarter-final of the FIFA World Cup 2014 features 5-time winners Brazil and winsome Colombia.

Escobar’s ghost be damned—the mafia don, not the footballer!

The rest of the line-up will follow over the next three nights.

Suarez! Talk about Suarez!

What about Luis, the man-eater of Salto, Uruguay?

The man sure has bite in him; both in front of goal and while gorging on all things edible.

His cannibalistic tendencies came to the fore in the final league game against ItalyGiorgio Chiellini, the victim of no love bite.

“A small bite for Luis Suarez, a giant one for Liverpool”. Indeed!

Soccer took a backseat while off-field jibes at Suarez hogged the world headlines.

Perhaps, some semblance of order will be restored this week when play on the football field returns to centre-stage.

Uruguayans, meanwhile, will mourn their country’s ouster from the World Cup; their favourite son—both saviour and devourer.

Till then, have a great week!

Sepp Blatter: What he said, really meant and definitely did not

Sepp Blatter Goes On The Warpath

What he said (via

“The World Cup was theirs by right. When they came here with Beckham, Prince William and Prime Minister Cameron, they were certain of winning.They got two votes. Since then, they have looked for every means to justify their defeat.”

Beleaguered FIFA boss, Joseph Blatter, launches a tirade at the English Football Association for their opposition to his continued presence at the helm of international soccer.

England lost out to Russia in its bid for the 2018 World Cup.

The 75-year-old is fighting corruption charges and was recently in the center of a racism row with his seemingly flippant remark that such on-field incidents could be settled with a handshake.

Transparency International dealt another blow to FIFA’s pretensions of corruption reform severing ties with the soccer body for ignoring two of its recommendations.

Mark Pieth,  a Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Basel,asked to oversee reforms, disclosed that he would be accepting payment from FIFA. Additionally, he would not be investigating old hoary scandals.

In an interview to Matin Dimanche, a French Swiss daily, Blatter denounced the English body claiming that they are more interested in hosting the World Cup than the Olympics.

Blatter said (via

In the 60s and 70s, the great sporting federations were in the main British. It’s no longer the case.The English have lost power and, most recently, the 2018 World Cup.They were very keen, more than for the Olympics. They thought that football should have come home.

What he really meant:

“The English are sore losers—according to me.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Why don’t HRH The Duke Of Cambridge and I settle our differences with (what else) a handshake?”

Read Blatter’s original interview here.

Sepp Blatter: What he said, really meant and definitely did not

Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, President of FIFA

Sepp Blatter Intends to Shake The Apple Tree, Long and Hard

What he said:

"It takes time to shake the tree until all bad apples have fallen to the ground.”

FIFA chief, Sepp Blatter, promises to clean up soccer’s governing body in an open letter addressed to the readers of “Inside World Football”.

Blatter recently ordered the reopening of the ISL case where it is alleged that FIFA and Olympic officials accepted kickbacks on marketing contracts.

The FIFA boss was re-elected President unopposed when Bin Hammam was provisionally suspended by FIFA’s ethics committee in June this year.

This is Blatter’s fourth consecutive term at the helm of international football.

Blatter wrote:

It would be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge reality, and the fact that we have been fighting an uphill struggle to calm nerves, initiate urgently needed reforms and at the same time adhere to a sense of reason during the stormiest of times.
FIFA’s last 100 days were among the most difficult in it’s over 100-year history.

Blatter added:

“It takes time to shake the tree until all bad apples have fallen to the ground. Even if some of them refuse to fall at first.”

Blatter concluded, saying:

In brief: I have initiated relevant and powerful change without "ifs" and "whens".
FIFA remains committed to walking the walk and won’t get stuck in solely talking the talk. By December, this will become clear for all to see. Until then, I invite everybody to bear with us so that we can clean house and come back to the public with facts that allow FIFA to enter a new decade of doing business. And never again revert to doing "business as usual".

What he really meant:

“It seems some bad apples are coated with super-glue. We’ll have to shake very hard and long.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Am I not the apple of your eye? The largest and the tastiest.”

Cricket: Ten reasons why the BCCI opposes DRS (Humour)

A photo of a match between Chennai SuperKings ...

Ten reasons why the BCCI steadfastly refuses to utilize the Decision Review System (DRS) in bilateral series involving India:

10) BCCI honchos believe DRS stands for Debatable Review System.

9) Test umpires paid off the BCCI to oppose the system.

8) BCCI members feel left out of the process; if this decision is taken out of their hands, what will board members convene a press conference for?

7) The BCCI have yet to form a committee to weigh pros and cons of the system.

6) DRS research files are with Lalit Modi. It is too embarrassing for the BCCI to request them back now.

5) BCCI officials do not agree with the term "snickometer". It sounds too much like "snickermeter" or "sniggermeter’". A retrospective fallout.

4) The BCCI have not received permission from the defence ministry to import the system.  It is military equipment, after all. The Indian government wishes to build HotSpot indigenously instead.

3) The BCCI would rather wait for FIFA to first approve goal-line technology. Heaven forbid that they be perceived as more progressive than the world’s foremost soccer body.

2) The memo approving the system is pending with Messr Sharad Pawar. The honourable minister desires to table a motion before parliament.

1) "Call us bully-boys, will ya? Let’s behave so."

Quote of the day: The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. – George Bernard Shaw

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