RAFIQ A WANI
SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Football Association and Jammu and Kashmir State Sports Council’s plan to host Federation Cup, one of the premier inter-club fixtures in Indian soccer calendar, in Kashmir Valley latter this year is unlikely to materalise, official sources said Thursday, citing lack of infrastructure and Assembly elections as the reasons.
The then Sports Minister Taj Mohiuddin had announced in February this year that Kashmir had been allocated hosting rights of two ‘mega’ football events. It was for the second time in Federation Cup’s history that Kashmir was awarded hosting rights. The Valley first hosted the championship in 1986.
While JKFA and JKSSC are busy preparing to host the All India Invitational Cup beginning last week of this month, the hosting rights of the 36th edition of Federation Cup which was scheduled to held later this year could either be scrapped or the tournament—the winner of which qualifies for AFC Cup (Asia’s equivalent of UEFA Champions League)—fixtures will be deferred as late as May next year.
With construction work of the maiden Astroturf—earmarked as one of three venues for the tournament besides Bakhshi Stadium and Polo Ground Srinagar—at TRC ground still months away from completion, it is learnt that slack work dampened the association’s plans.
The construction work of the Astroturf is overseen by JKSSC and their slackened approach has ‘angered’ the JKFA, who were “geared up” to make an impression at a bigger level, but “not upto the mark” infrastructure played spoilsport to their endeavours, the sources told Kashmir Reader.
“I think infrastructure at the moment won’t allow JKFA or any other sports body for that matter to host tournament like Federation Cup. Astroturf at TRC ground is yet in its construction phase, and by the look of things it won’t be completed in the near future. It has really scuttled JKFA’s plans,” the sources added.
It is also learnt from the sources that JKFA’s endeavors to host Federation Cup this year were dampened and deferred by the clash of proposed fixtures with the Assembly elections to be held later this year.
“JKFA and JKSSC don’t want to take risk as there will Assembly elections going on as well later this year. So, in order to avoid any iffy situation, in all likelihood, either hosting rights will be given to some other state or tournament will be deferred,” the sources added.
Kashmir Reader also learnt that the JKFA was trying its utmost to make sure hosting rights remained with Kashmir even if meant deferring of tourney fixtures.
However, JKFA president Zameer Ahmad Thakur denied that the Federation Cup would not be held in the Valley this year and said that a team from Ail India Football Federation would be visiting Srinagar to take stock of arrangements vis-à-vis infrastructure.
“We are still very much in the frame of hosting the Federation Cup. We have worked hard for secure the hosting rights. A team from the AIFF is visiting Srinagar in June to review arrangements and only then decision will be taken,” Thakur told Kashmir Reader.