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AIFF is set to approach 24 Indian-origin football players soon

AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey confirmed that they are set to approach 24 Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) for national duty.

AIFF is set to approach 24 Indian-origin football players soon

All India Football Federation. 


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 18 Dec 2023 2:05 PM GMT

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is looking at the possibility of selecting Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) for the national duty and will approach 24 such players soon, president Kalyan Chaubey said.

One of the biggest debates in Indian football has been the inclusion of PIO and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and this move to approach players in the national team is welcoming.

National team head coach Igor Stimac has already advocated the need to select PIO players for the Indian team. But it is easier said than done as Indian law does not allow dual citizenship.

If PIO players want to play for India, they have to take up Indian citizenship. A person must also stay in India for 12 months before applying for citizenship.

"We are looking to approach 24 PIO players who are playing across the world. But you know there is the issue of dual citizenship (not being permitted to play for India). So, we have to see how this can be done within the framework of Central Government's rules," AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey told PTI in an interview, without revealing the names of the players.

"We are having internal discussions on the matter and will come out with more details once more clarity is established." According to the draft minutes of the Executive Committee meeting of November 9, a sub-committee of the AIFF under Punjab Football Association president Samir Thapar "will collate data and information on the subject" to enable the national federation to arrive at a decision.

"Following pleas from many fronts on the inclusion of PIOs and OCIs (Overseas Citizens of India), the president (Chaubey) discussed with Thapar (during a visit to Punjab) and offered him to head a sub-committee," according to the draft minutes of the executive committee meeting.

India had approached the likes of Michael Chopra when Bob Houghton was India's coach but a 2008 government rule dashed all hopes of PIO players as they were required to become Indian citizens if they aspire to play for the country. The government made PIO and OCI card holders ineligible to represent India unless they gave up their foreign citizenship and got Indian passports.

Chaubey said India needs to play matches against higher-ranked countries but the gap (in FIFA rankings) should not be very large.

"The realistic approach would be to play against countries ranked from 76 to 100, which would enhance the confidence of our team. Once we are in the top 75-80 we should look to play European sides" he said.

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