Stimac's conduct reinforces belief that terminating his contract was right decision: AIFF

Igor Stimac. File Photo: Reuters via PTI.

New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Monday accused ousted coach Igor Stimac of making attempts to show the country's football fraternity in a bad light in international conferences, saying excuses and failures became emblematic of his tumultuous five-year tenure.
In a strong rebuttal to the series of allegations made against the AIFF by the former men's team head coach, the federation said it left no stone unturned in its effort to provide Stimac with everything he had asked for to lift the team's performance.

In a long statement, the AIFF said Stimac's sole intention of calling the press conference, four days after his sacking, was to malign the federation.
"This conduct (by 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," the AIFF said in the statement.

Launching a stinging attack on AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey, Stimac had said 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.
The AIFF rejected Stimac's claims. “Mr. Stimac was given full autonomy to function, including selections of venues, support staff, 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 negotiated with clubs and FSDL (AIFF's commercial partner), to have players released, to give the coach maximum days for preparation, often beyond the FIFA window," the federation said in its defence.

Stimac got the boot following the team's failure to reach the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, following which he made some serious allegations against his former employers. He said Indian football is "imprisoned" and blamed Chaubey for most of the problems besetting the game in the country.
“Except the request for a charter flight to Abha, Saudi Arabia, for which he was informed in a timely manner of the logistical challenges of providing the same, every other demand of his was met,” the AIFF said.

The federation also responded to Stimac's claim that the team was forced to train without GPS vests for more than 200 days. “Mr. Stimac is aware that the team's GPS equipment was lost by the airline in transit during team's travel in September 2023 from New Delhi to Hangzhou for the Asian Games.

“These are expensive gadgets and multiple attempts were made to recover the baggage without avail. When it became clear that recovery was unlikely, new devices were ordered and arrived in India in March 2024 after completion of essential procedural formalities.

“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.”

Croatian World-Cupper Stimac was appointed as the India head coach following the departure of his predecessor Stephen Constantine in the summer of 2019. In his last interaction with the media, 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 World Cup Qualifiers.

The AIFF countered by saying that the coach tried to show Indian football in poor light when he was representing the federation at the 3rd AFC National Coaches Conference in Malaysia between May 7-9.
“In his interaction with the AFC officials and the hosts, Mr. Stimac publicly stated that he had only four support staff as the coach of India's Senior Men's National Team.
“It is well known that Mr. Stimac always had a contingent of between 13 to 16 support staff for every camp and tournament. In fact, for the Asian Cup, he insisted on having an additional goalkeeper coach and a freekick specialist.
“The AIFF never objected to these additional demands. It is evident that Mr. Stimac intentionally misrepresented facts, to gain sympathy from other nation's coaches and the AFC, at the reputational cost of India, the AIFF and Indian football."

A day after he got the boot, Stimac threatened to file a lawsuit against the AIFF in the FIFA Tribunal if his outstanding dues (USD 360,000) were not cleared within 10 days.

The national federation said when his contract came up for renewal in October 2023, the core committee of the AIFF, under the chairmanship of vice president N A Haris, met in advance and proposed that Stimac "could be offered a two-year contract with a monthly salary of USD 30,000 from January 2024" and instructed the legal team to finalise the contract with a "termination clause favourable to AIFF".

“The executed contract provides for a salary raise to USD 30,000 per month from February 2024-January 2025 (as approved by the Core Committee) and USD 40,000 per month from February 2024-January 2026 (without Core Committee approval for the said amount).

“The specific instructions regarding inserting termination clauses favourable to AIFF were also not followed before executing the contract. However, certain clauses for termination for cause were retained in the contract,” the AIFF said.

Stimac also said that the stress over Indian football affected his health as he was required to undergo a procedure to treat a heart condition. The AIFF expressed shock at this claim.

“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.”

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