FIFA checks professionalism of Mumbai clubs

Mumbai's top two city clubs, Mahindra United and Air-India, got a "thumbs up" for their good footballing facilities from the visiting FIFA officials, David Borja, FIFA Development Manager and Jean Michal Benezet, Technical Advisor FIFA. “I haven’t seen them but the footballing set up of both the teams look impressive. We also had a meeting with Air-India in the morning and I can say that they are good,” Borja told Express India after the inauguration of Mahindra United Club House in Kandivli.

The two officials were in the city to inspect the preparedness of the clubs before "giving them the nod" for licensing to the new professional league. Club licensing is a FIFA initiative wherein clubs have to fulfil certain criteria, such as football infrastructure, appointment of professional technical and administrative personnel, legal criteria regarding players' transfer and payments and finance, before participating in FIFA and Asian Football Confederation events.

The two FIFA officials agreed the current National Football League was an important platform to assess the clubs and their set-up and acquire feedback on the ills that hamper their progress on a professional level. Benezet emphasised the need for increasing the number of clubs taking part in the NFL. "Ten clubs is too small a number. After increasing the number of clubs in the professional league, the next step can be a Super League, apart from club competitions at different levels," he said. He also threw light on strengthening of the National Football League second division. "The first division should be important but the second division teams too will have to prepare themselves and perform so that they can move to the next professional level,” he said.

The visiting football delegation also intends to meet management of all NFL clubs playing in the First Division and also six teams from the Second Division. Clubs in Goa, Bangalore, Kolkata and Delhi will be under scanner too, according to All India Football Federation Secretary Albert Colaco.