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Football

President Murmu urges football officials to work for advancement of game

Amid a growing controversy surrounding Indian football, President Murmu called for peace and prosperity.

President Murmu urges football officials to work for advancement of game
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President Draupadi Murmu 

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 10 July 2024 11:35 AM GMT

President Draupadi Murmu called on all stakeholders of Indian football to collaborate for the advancement of the sport in the country.

This appeal was made during the flag-off ceremony for the trophy tour of the 133rd edition of the Durand Cup, Asia's oldest football tournament, which is set to commence on July 27 and will be played across four cities: Kolkata, Kokrajhar, Shillong, and Jamshedpur.

"Football is the most popular sport in the world. Professional footballers entertain people. Currently, Euro 2024 is going on and it is being followed the world over, it's everywhere in the news," President Murmu said in her address at the function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

She reminded the gathering of the contribution of the Durand Cup -- named after its founder Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of India from 1884 to 1894 -- in the country's football tradition.

"It is India's oldest football tournament and it's more than 135 years old," the president said of the tournament which was first held in Shimla in 1888.

"India's first president Rajendra Prasad presented the Durand Cup winners the President's Cup in 1950," she added.

The statements from the president came after former AIFF secretary-general Shaji Prabhakaran claimed that federation president Kalyan Chaubey had approved the contract extension for former national team head coach Igor Stimac without any severance clause.

Chaubey denied the charge, calling it a "complete lie."

Prabhakaran’s letter, sent ahead of the AIFF Executive Committee meeting on July 20, asserted that Chaubey was updated at every step and approved the contract of Stimac, though Chaubey claimed it was signed in his absence.

Indian football has been in a state of turmoil for the past few weeks after the team failed to qualify for the third round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers, leading to the sacking of coach Stimac.

Durand Cup 2024

The 133rd edition of the Durand Cup will be played in four cities -- Kolkata, Kokrajhar in Assam, Shillong in Meghalaya, and Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.

Twenty-four teams will feature in the July 27 to August 31 tournament and they will be divided into six groups. Eight teams -- group toppers and two best second-placed sides -- will qualify for the knockout stage.

Services teams of Bangladesh and Bhutan are also taking part in the tournament. The final will be held at the iconic Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.

Indian Super League side Mohun Bagan Super Giant are the defending champions, having beaten Kolkata rivals East Bengal 1-0 in the final in the 2023 edition of the tournament.

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