Kalyan Chaubey, president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), has established a Task Force to conduct a feasibility study and assessment of football players falling within the categories of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), a release noted.
The Task Force's scope will extend to the assessment of players competing at higher levels as well as the status of young players. It has been entrusted with submitting its report by January 31, 2024. Samir Thapar, president of the Punjab Football Association and an experienced sports administrator, will chair the Task Force. Additional members of the Task Force will be designated by the AIFF president following discussions with the chairman and the Executive Committee.
Making the announcement, Chaubey said, "The Task Force’s primary objective will be to collect data on footballers who are either Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) or Persons of Indian Origin (PIO). It is a matter of great pride for us that many such footballers are playing in different countries with distinction and have made a name for themselves in the tough world of professional football."
In response to whether the data could be used to approach some of these footballers to play for the Indian National Teams at different levels, Chaubey said, “We are aware that as per the existing law of the land, OCIs and PIOs are not allowed to represent India in international sporting events unless they adopt Indian citizenship. However, if we want to open up a dialogue and look into various ways of allowing such players to represent the Indian Football Teams, then we need concrete and comprehensive data to back up our arguments, which is why we have constituted this Task Force,” said Chaubey.
“We will first form a comprehensive database on the OCI and PIO footballers around the world, and then look for the best possible ways to use such players to take Indian football forward,” added the AIFF president.