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AIFF Defends Decision to Sack Stimac Amidst Allegations

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has vehemently defended its decision to terminate Igor Stimac’s contract as head coach of the men’s national football team, condemning his recent remarks as an attempt to tarnish the reputation of Indian football on the international stage. In a comprehensive statement issued on Monday, the AIFF alleged that Stimac’s decision to hold a press conference four days after his dismissal was designed solely to malign the federation.

“This conduct by Mr. Stimac has only reinforced the AIFF’s belief that the right decision was made, with just cause, to terminate his contract and move forward in the interests of Indian football,” said the AIFF’s statement. In a pointed criticism, Stimac had earlier declared that AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey’s departure would benefit the nation’s football future, implicating Chaubey in the stagnation of the sport.

Stimac’s tenure of five years was highlighted by the AIFF as being fraught with issues that included excuses and failures, which they described as characteristic of his time in charge. The federation dismissed his complaints, asserting that it had consistently met his demands. “Mr. Stimac was given full autonomy to function, including selections of venues, support staff, and choice of travel days as per his communication with the team manager. His specific requests, especially for various support staff of his choice, were always supported by the AIFF in the interests of the national team.”

The AIFF further elaborated on efforts made to accommodate Stimac, negotiating with clubs and their commercial partner, Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), to release players for extended preparation periods, often beyond the FIFA window.

Stimac’s contract was terminated following the Indian team’s inability to progress to the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Post-dismissal, Stimac leveled serious allegations at his former employers, accusing them of imprisoning Indian football and laying the majority of the blame on President Kalyan Chaubey for the sport’s issues in the country.

The federation also addressed Stimac’s complaints about logistical shortcomings, like his unmet request for a charter flight to Abha, Saudi Arabia.

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. Additionally, they responded to his allegations about the training conditions, including the absence of GPS vests for over 200 days, clarifying that the equipment was lost in transit by an airline and subsequently replaced as soon as the procedural formalities were completed. “The vests were immediately made available to the team for the all-important leg of the FIFA World Cup qualifier. While it is true that the team did not have access to the GPS vests for approximately 50 days of training and match play, the coach’s statement that GPS equipment was not available for over 200 days is obviously misleading and an attempt to exaggerate the matter for effect.”

Furthermore, the AIFF countered Stimac’s claims made during the AFC National Coaches Conference in Malaysia, where he allegedly stated that he had only four support staff, whereas he actually had a team of 13 to 16 support staff members for every camp and tournament. For the Asian Cup, he had even insisted on additional staff, such as a goalkeeper coach and a freekick specialist, to which the AIFF had not objected.

A day post-termination, Stimac threatened legal action against the AIFF if his outstanding dues of $360,000 were not settled within ten days. Addressing this, the AIFF clarified the contractual situation, explaining the terms of renewal and the procedural errors that led to the omission of specific termination clauses.

“Igor Stimac was subsequently offered a two-year contract with a monthly salary increase, under specific instructions to include termination clauses favorable to the AIFF. Although certain termination clauses for cause were retained, the executed contract adhered to the financial terms proposed by the core committee,” the statement read.

Stimac also brought his health into the discourse, stating the stress from dealing with Indian football’s challenges required him to undergo a heart procedure, which the AIFF met with surprise. “It is ironic that someone who was the prime person controlling the fortunes of the national team considers that Indian football is imprisoned and has not grown. It is fashionable to blame the entire system on the way out, especially when you do not wish to take any personal responsibility,” the AIFF remarked.

With deep divisions laid bare and the AIFF standing firm in its stance, the fracas surrounding Stimac’s departure from Indian football has escalated into a comprehensive and contentious dispute. The federation’s strong defense of its actions portrays a commitment to moving forward while contending with the allegations and narratives being shaped by the former coach.