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Football

'I wanted to leave, but AIFF complicated it by terminating my contract'- Igor Stimac

The termination of Igor Stimac's contract by the AIFF has escalated into a financial debacle, potentially costing the federation over 7 crores due to alleged procedural irregularities.

I wanted to leave, but AIFF complicated it by terminating my contract- Igor Stimac
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Igor Stimac was sacked after a five-year tenure. (Photo credit: AIFF)

By

Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 21 Jun 2024 11:12 AM GMT

Igor Stimac, once celebrated for his vision to elevate Indian football, now finds himself embroiled in a bitter dispute with the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Earlier this week, the AIFF announced the immediate termination of his services as head coach after the team's defeat against Qatar in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The following day, Stimac responded to the AIFF, accusing them of mishandling his termination and disrespecting him.

He also demanded immediate payment for the premature termination of his contract as per FIFA regulations and threatened to initiate proceedings against the AIFF at the FIFA Football Tribunal if not compensated within ten days.

His departure, surrounded by accusations of mishandling and unilateral action, has sparked a storm of controversy within the Indian football community.

Blind-sided by AIFF

"I had offered mutual termination at the expense of a month's salary!" Stimac revealed in a press conference he hosted after the fiasco, expressing his initial intent to part ways amicably. However, his hopes for a respectful exit were dashed when the AIFF abruptly terminated his contract, blindsiding him.

"The people in the AIFF don’t know how to run a football house," Stimac criticized, exposing the administrative challenges that continue to hinder the development of football infrastructure in India.

"I had informed Satyanarayanan that I’ve got two offers and I’m deciding my future. By the end of the month, I’ll make a decision which will allow us to part ways without costing much. But I also told him if he wants to terminate the contract early, then he can, but I will need someone from the AIFF who’ll take responsibility with me," he added.

However, just hours after that conversation, the AIFF terminated Stimac's contract.

"Only half a day after telling me not to feel pressured by social media, I received a termination letter in the mail, which they can't do on their own," he said, highlighting the complications surrounding his termination.

The cost of termination

His allegations of procedural irregularities cast a shadow over the AIFF's governance practices. Despite offering an easy way out with the option of just paying a month's salary, the AIFF now has to pay Stimac over 7 crores.

Stimac also shed light on the opaque nature of his contract extension process.

"I had informed my lawyer to prepare a resignation letter last year. While it was in process, I received a call from the AIFF saying my extension would happen. Later, I was informed that Shaji would take over my extension talks, and it happened," he stated.

In a parting shot, Stimac criticized the AIFF's handling of personnel matters, remarking, "AIFF sacking Shaji was not good... If you're entering a war with someone, you shouldn't go to war against them. There were allegations against Shaji that he extended my contract on his own. But that's not possible. Everyone was aware including the Technical committee," he hinted at internal strife within the organization, further complicating the already contentious situation.

The fallout from this episode serves as a reminder of the challenges inherent in managing football as a sport in India, where integrity, accountability, and effective governance are paramount and yet visibly non-existent.

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