The I-League is considered as India’s premier football competition according to the FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke. This confirmation from the World’s Governing Body comes after several eyebrows raised over I-League after the inception of ISL.
“For us (FIFA), I-League and not ISL is India’s biggest football competition. ISL is a championship of eight franchises for two months. You cannot have two leagues in a country. Football doesn’t work like that. I-League is most important for development of football in India. ISL’s main aim is to promote and provide attention to Indian football. Commitment of ISL franchises is to invest and develop infrastructure, to strengthen the grassroots programme of the sport.” Valcke said.
He also said that India with a population of over 1.2 billion is a big enough country to have a second sport that is followed widely after cricket and football is considerably big to occupy that second spot in the country as FIFA and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) are working towards making football the next most followed sport in India after cricket.
AIFF President Praful Patel too confirmed this by saying the I-League is India’s Premier football compeition.
“Let us not confuse the issue. ISL is a tournament that brings attention to football. It is like a booster dose,” he said, stressing on the fact that several ISL franchises have expressed their interest of proceeding to the I-League format.
“ISL is created with the aim of strengthening the I-League. For football to develop here, infrastructure and youth development is the most important aspect we need to focus on,” he said.