AIFF President Urges Accountability and Improvement in Indian Football Refereeing

AIFF President calls for accountability, addressing errors in Indian football refereeing.

In a virtual meeting held on December 31, 2023, the President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Mr. Kalyan Chaubey, voiced serious concerns over the continuous errors and growing refereeing issues in India’s premier football leagues, the ISL and the I-League. Chaubey called for urgent accountability within the Referee Department, urging officials to address the persistent problems affecting fair play.

The mid-season ‘Refereeing Review Meeting’ chaired by Mr. Chaubey lasted over four hours and included key stakeholders such as Acting Secretary General M Satyanarayan, Treasurer Kipa Ajay, and other league and referee officials. The meeting discussed 24 controversial Key Match Incidents (KMI) from seven ISL and four I-League games, highlighting the increasing dissatisfaction with referee decisions, supported by video evidence submitted by clubs.

Expressing his concern for the impact of plain-sight errors on participating clubs and the overall quality of the game, Chaubey emphasized the need for individuals involved in referee regulations to uphold ‘natural justice.’ He acknowledged the AIFF’s commitment to developing referees and the recent establishment of the Elite Development Referee Programme.

Despite the federation’s efforts in referee development, Chaubey urged officials and administrators to minimize mistakes and not hide behind the ‘acceptable 15% human error norm.’ He called for a holistic approach, considering the emotional and financial investments of fans and clubs, and stressed the importance of fairness and consistency in decisions.

To further address these issues, the AIFF President proposed a follow-up meeting during the Kalinga Super Cup in Bhubaneswar. Additionally, the AIFF plans to convene a meeting with ISL and I-League club coaches and managers in Bhubaneswar, led by Chief Referee Officer Trevor Kettle, to establish ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ for club officials.

Chaubey concluded by urging fans and club officials to develop a fair understanding of the laws of the game, emphasizing the need for education and knowledge-sharing to reduce undue criticism. The AIFF’s commitment to enhancing the standard of Indian refereeing remains evident, with ongoing efforts to address and rectify the challenges faced in the current football season.

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