Sunil Chhetri and other Indian footballers want single, longer league

By: Sujata Sarkar
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Bengaluru, Dec 5: Ace Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri feels there should be one football league in India. For the last three years, footballers are taking part in two leagues. One is the I-league and another is the newly launched Indian Super League (ISL).

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Chhetri, who plays for Bengaluru FC in the I-League and Mumbai City FC in the ISL suggests that the longer unified league help the players more and will develop Indian football.

Sunil Chhetri (right) with Indian football team

Speaking on Sunday, December 4, over the phone, Chhetri said: “Firstly, we participate in ISL that goes on for three months.

"Then, after a couple of days’ rest, we take part in a grueling five-month I-League. So, instead of playing two separate football leagues for eight months in total, there should be one league on the basis of long term.

"In that case, the actual improvement in Indian football’s standard in near future will be seen.”

At the same time, Sunil opined that number of teams in that one football league should be increased to make the league more popular.

The footballer added: “Unless the number of participating teams is increasing and unless the teams from all around the country can be involved the I-League will not be widespread.”

Other Indian national team players like Arnab Mandal and Jackichand Singh echoed Sunil's opinion in this matter.

They said: “We do not get enough time to take rest in between the ISL and I-League. Naturally, our tiredness after having participated in the ISL remains.

"More importantly, there is a big difference between ISL and I-League in terms of style of play, training.

"In the ISL we play under foreign coach while after the end of ISL we come back to the training under Indian coaches. Naturally, it becomes difficult for us to adopt the difference of training and style.

"But if the All India Football Federation (AIFF) makes one league then it will be easier for us to adopt the style of the game.”

Chhetri’s comments on the merge of both the leagues were supported by two big clubs in Indian football, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

Both the club officials, who are extremely vocal against the introduction of ISL, have lent their support for the merger of ISL and I-League.

But at the same time, these two clubs are determined that they will not pay any franchise fee if they are asked to join the new league in future.

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