India is more known for cricketing nation around the world, the history of Indian football has the same long history as cricket.
WORLD CUP ENTRY
The all India football federation was established in 1937, but the concept of Indian national football team only set to develop after independence. Before 1947 selections of Indian players are made through the foreign tours but never as the official national team.India’s first trip to Sri Lanka in 1924, followed by a 1934 tour to South Africa and 1938 tour of Australia.AIFF joined FIFA in 1948 and in the same year, independent India’s first national football team participated in a major tournament – The LONDON Olympics.
At London India lost 2-1 to France, but could have easily won the match if they didn’t miss two penalty chances. Despite the loss, the performance and the skill shown by most of the bare feet Indian players got attention and applaud of the audience. Also they played friendly matches against few teams on their way back to India, which include match against Ajax Amsterdam, who they defeated 5-1.
The world was set up to the post-war world cup 1950 in Brazil. The British teams were participating in qualifiers for the first time. West Germany and Japan were banned from participation, also teams like France and Argentina withdrew.
India was grouped with Myanmar, Philippines and Indonesia in Asian zone. When rest of the teams in this group pulled out, India got a chance through the world cup without kicking a ball. Till the end of May, India were all set to participate in their first world cup. The group draws were made on 22nd may in Rio de Janeiro, placing India in group 3, along with defending world champions Italy, Paraguay and Sweden.
India’s non-participation theories
After the groups were decided, AIFF officials soon had a closed door meeting. The result of the meeting was to withdraw from the world cup. From the press trust of India release the official reasons were,” India will not participate in the world cup. Due to late information reaching India, the team will have to be flown to Rio resulting in cancellation of team selection meetings. Since there is not much time, the Indian team will not be able to prepare and hence it will not be correct to send the team”.
India’s non participation created more dramatic theories; One theory states that AIFF didn’t have the money to send the team across half the world to Brazil. Another theory suggests Indian authorities became frighten after the group draws so withdrew to avoid an eventual embarrassment. The greatest of all and the myth is, the theory that India were “not allowed” because the players didn’t use boots.
But when we do a brief study most of these popular theories seems to be false. AIFF didn’t quote any reason of no fund. Also AIFF would have not afraid of the draw because India were the Asian champions. At last the myth of bare foot, not all the Indian players play with bare foot, Mohun Bangan’s team that won IFA shield in 1911 had booted players.
Truth of Downfall
Then at 1950’s the world cup was not as popular as Olympics among Indians. Also AIFF and Indians felt Olympics as prestigious and pride to India. Also Indian’s non participation in 1950’s world cup played a part in their downslide from being one of the best in Asia to becoming a lower side.
Dream of Indians
Every Indians dream is to participate in world cup. After a long way now both AIFF and many corporate tie up together to develop the quality and popularity of football in India.