Stephen Constantine
OCI Cards are the best option to allow PIOs to represent, feels ConstantineAIFF Media

Indian national football team head coach Stephen Constantine has poured his heart out on various issues troubling Indian football and the way forward, in his recent blog.

Among other things, he wants persons of Indian origin (PIOs) to be allowed to represent India, a suggestion that has been supported by the AIFF. 

The British coach, who isn't afraid of mincing words, says the only way for the government of India to allow a player of Indian origin to represent the tricolour is through recognition of the overseas citizen of India (OCI) cards.

Constantine suggests if the government accords recognition to the OCI card, players with Indian roots will be able to play for the country. The OCI does not imply acquiring Indian citizenship or for that matter, tantamount to dual citizenship.

"I would like the opportunity to select some of the players that are of Indian origin / have roots here to play for the Indian National team, and there are a number of players that I have identified who would add great value to the team and obviously improve us as a whole," Constantine wrote.

"How can we do this without upsetting the government's policies, the recent result against Guam [2-1 loss for India in the Russia 2018 Qualifiers] has for sure raised the issue of why we are not allowed to use Indian players playing abroad. This is of course not the long term solution but it is a way where we can improve results in the next few years now and at the same time make sure we are doing the right things when it comes to developing players here in India.

"My point is that in other countries, this process is happening at all levels especially at a club level. So how do we get the goverment to look at this rule so that we can take advantage of Indians who want to come and play? The OCI card is perhaps the best option if our goverment recognizes that OCI card holders can represent India in sports, this can solve the problem and we can take full advantage that all the countries around the world have," the 52-year-old added.

The former Rwanda head coach also retweeted an online petition that seeks a revision of the policy of the government of India on the eligibility of Indian-origin players for the national football team. The petition has been signed by more than 1,800 people so far.

"Social Media is playing its part and the hashtag #BackTheBlues is playing its part. More than 1,000 people have signed this already so let's hope the powers that be can help make a difference," Constantine wrote.

The AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das mentioned some of the players, which includes the likes of Luciano Narsingh of Holland and Harmeet Singh of Norway, who have been identified by Stephen as probables, to represent India.

It is also reported that some of the other players who can make the cut include English players Netan Sansara, Aman Verma, Danny Tanveer, Rikki Bains, Malvind Benning, Dylan Lall, Netherlands winger Diego Biseswar, as well as Welshman Neil Taylor, whose mother is an Indian.

You can sign the petition at