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'Igor Stimac's conduct justifies the contract termination,' AIFF statement

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has responded to former Head Coach Igor Stimac's recent comments, asserting that his actions were aimed at damaging the organization's reputation and its personnel.

Igor Stimacs conduct justifies the contract termination, AIFF statement

AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey.


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 24 Jun 2024 1:09 PM GMT

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has officially responded to comments made by Igor Stimac, the former Head Coach of the Indian National Team, emphasizing that his statements were aimed at tarnishing the organization's reputation and its personnel.

The AIFF contends that Stimac's actions are unprofessional, especially considering his five-year tenure with full support from the federation. This behavior, according to the AIFF, validates their decision to terminate his contract in the best interests of Indian football.

In their statement, the AIFF clarified that while they prefer not to engage in a public debate with Stimac, it is essential to set the record straight on several matters he raised. The AIFF's current leadership took office in September 2022, when Stimac had already been head coach for over three years.

In October 2023, the Core Committee, chaired by Vice President N A Haris, proposed renewing Stimac’s contract for two years with a monthly salary of USD 30,000 starting January 2024. The legal team was instructed to ensure the contract included termination clauses favorable to the AIFF.

However, the finalized contract did not fully adhere to these instructions, although certain termination clauses for cause were included.

Claims of zero support

The AIFF detailed the extensive support provided to Stimac during his tenure. The AIFF President met with Stimac five times over 18 months, and he was given full autonomy in his role, including decisions on venues, support staff, and travel arrangements. His specific requests, including those for various support staff, were met consistently, except for a charter flight to Abha, Saudi Arabia, due to logistical challenges.

Regarding the unavailability of GPS vests, the AIFF explained that the equipment was lost by the airline en route to the Asian Games in September 2023. After unsuccessful recovery attempts, new devices were ordered and made available by March 2024.

Igor Stimac's unprofessional conduct

Despite several instances of misbehavior and negative statements from Stimac, the AIFF chose to overlook them to avoid disrupting preparations for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Concerns about Stimac's reliance on an astrologer for player selections and his controversial support staff choices were addressed immediately by the AIFF.

Many players echoed these concerns, reporting issues with Stimac’s coaching style and tactics.

Several incidents further highlighted Stimac’s conduct. At the 3rd AFC National Coaches Conference in May 2024, Stimac misrepresented facts by claiming he had only four support staff, while he actually had 13 to 16 support staff. This misrepresentation aimed to gain sympathy from other national coaches and the AFC, damaging the AIFF’s reputation.

Additionally, just days before a critical match against Kuwait, Stimac’s lawyer sent a legal notice alleging the AIFF misquoted him in a press release, suggesting his focus was more on ending his tenure favorably rather than team preparations.

The AIFF was also surprised by Stimac's public revelation of undergoing heart surgery during his tenure, which he blamed on the AIFF, without formally disclosing his medical condition to the federation.

Despite Stimac's claims that Indian football has stagnated, the AIFF asserts that his behavior and the declining performance of the national team necessitated his contract termination. Stimac was offered a mutual parting, which he refused, making unreasonable demands instead. Consequently, the AIFF had no option but to terminate his contract with just cause, offering a three-month severance fee.

The AIFF acted in the national interest, considering the upcoming FIFA window in September 2024 and the need to hire a new coach and support staff. The federation says it remains committed to protecting Indian football and its stakeholders and looks forward to a new chapter for the sport in the country.

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