Veteran Indian long jumper Anju Bobby George has come out against the way the Indian Super League football tournament is turning out to be a major trouble for the Indian athletes who train in the stadiums. Last month, an embarrassing incident occurred at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru over this issue and now it has stirred a controversy.
The 40-year-old long jumper has lashed out at the reports that a football training site would be built at the Sports Authority of India (SAI's) Bengaluru center. This could compromise the athletes' track, she fears.
The SAI sources confess that whoever has the money-power gets to reap the most benefits. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) loses out to Indian Super League, which is owned by the Reliance-IMG (R).
"To maintain infrastructure across cities, the SAI needs money and the ISL clubs are paying. The AFI isn't. These are all multi sport venues and all the federations have to plan their competition calendar accordingly," an unnamed official from the Sports Authority of India was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
The long jumper and the AFI have alleged that the sports ministry was favoring football over athletics. We still await a comment from the union sports minister Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore on this.
The veteran athlete wants the Indian Super League franchises to build their own training venues rather than using training centers of the SAI.
"Look at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru or JLN Stadium in Chennai. You cannot use these venues as a football tournament is going on," the Olympian said.
"Where do the athletes go? These stadia in Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru have good tracks and are basically meant for athletics tournaments. They are not being used for that now," she added.
At the Kanteerava stadium, a scuffle broke out between an ISL cameraperson and a track&field athlete after the former allegedly refused to shift his equipment from the track, thus hampering the training of the athlete named HM Manikanta.
This came after BFC vs JFC match, which was played in newly built Kalinga Athletic Stadium.. Yes!!! It will definitely frustrate any @afiindia athlete to see the stadium which was particularly built for them are being taken over one after other by Football Clubs #IndianFootball https://t.co/QzQouNU9Qb— . (@offsideindian) February 28, 2018
"Each ISL club is paying the SAI anywhere between Rs 1 to 1.5 crore for the entire season," an ISL official told TOI.
"Delhi Dynamos paid Rs 1.2 crore for their home matches. Chennaiyin FC paid the JLN stadium authorities Rs 1.7 crore for the season. Bengaluru FC paid roughly around Rs 1.2 crore and ATK has paid Rs 1 crore. The staggering amount itself tells the story," the official added.