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India skipped FIFA World Cup in 1950

Chandigarh : How Indian football fans wish their team played in the FIFA World Cup? Will that day ever come? No one knows, but rest assured, there is no hope anytime soon. It sounds disheartening but the Indian fans would be aghast to know that 64 years ago India qualified, but did not play.
Yes, India qualified for the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil but spurned the offer to play. The official reason cited by All India Football Federation (AIFF) was ‘disagreements over team selection, and insufficient practice time’.
There are many myths associated with why India missed the opportunity.
Myth No. 1: AIFF felt that the Indian stars, who were used to playing barefoot, would be outclassed by stronger opponents as wearing footwear was mandatory under FIFA rules. It could have marred Indian football team’s rising stature after the 1948 London Olympics where they narrowly lost to France 1-2.
Myth 2. Paucity of foreign exchange and the long journey by ship are said to be the other reasons for the pull-out. Myth 3. India was not used to playing 90-minute matches. Before 1970, India’s domestic tournaments were of 70-minute duration.
The reality could be somewhere in between. First, India had attained Independence only around three years earlier and was not sure of making such a big investment for just participation. Back then, FIFA World Cup was not as glamourous and its universal appeal and popularity were not as much as today.
Second, AIFF officials were more keen on Olympics and 1951 Asian Games, to be held in New Delhi. Third, there were apprehensions that playing in the FIFA World Cup would brand India’s players as professional, thereby leaving them ineligible for the Olympics.

About Jatin Kamboj