India only place where football not growing, sooner Kalyan Chaubey leaves, better it is for the sport: Igor Stimac

PTI, Jun 21, 2024, 7:20 PM IST

New Delhi: Ousted India football coach Igor Stimac on Friday launched a stinging attack on AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey, saying the sooner he leaves the post, the better it would be for the future of football in the country where the globally-loved sport is not growing at all.

Stimac was on Monday sacked as head coach following the team’s failure to reach the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. A day later, the Croat threatened to file a lawsuit against the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in the FIFA Tribunal if his outstanding dues were not cleared in 10 days.

During a lengthy online press conference on Friday, Stimac said Indian football is “imprisoned” and blamed Chaubey for most of the problems besetting the game. He also said that he was “fed up of the lies and unfulfilled promises” during his tenure.

“The sooner Kalyan Chaubey leaves AIFF, the better it is for Indian football,” Stimac said.

“Football is the most popular sport in the world, but India is the only place where football is not growing,” he added.

Stimac was appointed as the head coach following the departure of his predecessor Stephen Constantine in March 2019. A few days after India suffered a defeat against Qatar in the final second round match of World Cup Qualifiers earlier this month, the AIFF sacked Stimac.

The outspoken coach also took aim at AIFF Technical Committee head and India great I M Vijayan, saying he is not fit for the job.

“I M Vijayan was a fantastic player but he is not the person to head the national federation’s technical committee,” he said.

Stimac, who was part of Croatia team that won the bronze medal at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, said he has been sacked as a coach for the first time in his career.

“In my career, I’ve not been sacked till now, this was the first time. And it was wrongly so – in my reply to AIFF I’ve done the same.

“It was impossible for me to continue without enough support, I was fed up of the lies, the unfulfilled promises and being surrounded by people who are only thinking about their own interests,” Stimac said from Croatia.

The 56-year-old revealed that he was given a final warning before the Asian Cup merely for trying to convince the AIFF about the importance of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Stimac said that the meeting resulted in him going to the hospital and undergoing a surgery to treat a heart condition.

“After I told them that the World Cup Qualifiers were more important than Asian Cup, I received a final warning from AIFF. When I received the final warning on December 2, no one knows this, I finished in the hospital.

“I was disturbed with everything going on; stressed from the obvious problems. I had an immediate surgery on my heart. I wasn’t ready to speak to anyone or find excuses.

“I was ready to put myself on the line to prepare my team for the Asian Cup to give the best shot,” Stimac said.

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