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Why is India Not in The FIFA World Cup?

If you have read our previous articles about the FIFA World Cup 2022, you must know that India has qualified for the Qatar World Cup. Though football is the second most loved sport in India, the National team is still not participating in the World Cup. Why? Why is India not in the FIFA World Cup 2022? Well, broadly you can call it the result of politician’s unnecessary interference in the tournament management. 

Recently, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) suspended the Indian National Football Authority of India that is All India Football Federation (AIFF). This incident occurred because FIFA, the international football authority, suspected an undue third-party interference in the governance of AIFF which is the violation of FIFA’s  terms and conditions. Though this ban was lifted shortly after the implementation, the circumstances were not fruitful for India. India’s Women football team could have lost the Women under-17 World Cup. 

It might sound a little harsh to you that India has some titles that are a subject to debate. Yes, back in 2006, the FIFA president Sepp Blatter called India the “Sleeping Giant” in the world of football but does it really suit us? It is an acknowledged fact that Indian young players are way too brilliant at attracting crowds, winning people’s hearts and getting higher ratings from both media and football fans but one fact can not be ignored that India has a long way to go before it finally gets to play in the FIFA World Cup. 

Igor Stimac became in charge of the Indian National Football team in May 2019, agreeing for a two years long deal which was supposed to end by May 2021 but All India Football Federation (AIFF) extended his stay making him stay till September 2021. As of 2022, Igor Stimac is the head coach of the Indian National Football team while Sunil Chhetri is the captain and the top goal scorer. india-fifa

Did you know that the Indian National Football team is also known as The Blue Tigers (nickname).

Why is India not in the FIFA World Cup?

As we mentioned above, politician’s unnecessary interference is one of the major causes, why India is not in the FIFA World Cup but it is not the sole reason for that. It has a number of serious factors that have restricted India to gain the status of playing in the FIFA World Cup.

Fan following

Have you ever taken a look at the Instagram followers of Virat Kohli and Sunil Chhetri? Virat Kohli has 222m followers on Instagram while Sunil Chhetri has 3 million. Do you see the difference? It was just an example to give you guys a hint of how vast the fan following gap is between Football and Cricket in India. India’s most popular and beloved sport is Cricket and people have a unique craze and passion for it. Unlike most of the European countries, in many of the games of Indian National team and some I-league clubs, the number of audience hardly goes upto over 10000 while in Cricket the case is completely opposite. 

One of the major reasons for Cricket being the most popular and successful sport in India is the great crowd cheering for them. Football doesn’t enjoy the same level of cheering crowd in India and that turns out to be a major cause of India’s failure in getting the status of playing in the FIFA World Cup. 


Do you know that India’s infrastructure for Football is nothing compared to that of Cricket? India’s poor infrastructure and lack of long-term vision are two of the biggest factors that inhibit the growth of football in India. You would be shocked to know that even a few of the major football clubs in India don’t have proper training and medical facilities. This is the weak point of the All India Football Federation. There are not many football stadiums of international level in India which is very less considering geographical size of India as well as demographic. 

Promotion of Football 

Just like I said, India is a country which centres around cricket and is known for it. And awareness about a sport is a factor that plays a crucial role in the development and success of a sport in a particular region. Here lies the reason behind India’s poor ranking in FIFA – the lack of awareness about the world’s most popular sport in India. You can simply call it promotion. AIFF has completely failed to achieve this goal- the promotion of football which ended up becoming a hindrance in India’s way of reaching the FIFA World Cup. It’s also the reason why ISL is more popular than the I-league. Though ISL can help promote football, it is not an accurate solution to the problem of player’s development. Most of the ISL’s clubs don’t even have much facilities, training sessions and youth academies and most importantly they are not involved in playing or training after the season ends. 

Inefficient League System 

It was only in the mid 1990s when the National League which is now known as I-league was introduced. Shortly afterwards, many events were introduced or organised including the Santosh Trophy for the National Championships and for worse the introduction of franchise based Indian Super League (ISL). These developments just came as a storm and broke the local club and tournament structure. This instance took place just because no strong grassroot programs were put in place. 

Basically, a country needs several things sorted in order to make the sport popular and successful. One of these things is the League structure which should have a bottom top approach. There should be a schedule of dates for local and state leagues to be played one after one. 

Why did India not play in the FIFA World Cup 1950 even after qualifying? 

Here comes one of the most debatable questions of history, why did India not play in the FIFA World Cup 1950 even after qualifying? The most used answer to India’s no participation in FIFA World Cup is that it didn’t get qualified. But what now? Back in 1950, India for the first time qualified for the FIFA World Cup but didn’t play. What happened is that AIFF, the Indian football governing body couldn’t send the team to play in the FIFA World Cup and became unfortuners. 

Hey, but wait. Why couldn’t AIFF send the team to the FIFA World Cup? Did they not have efficient transportation facilities or did they lack money for sponsoring the equipment and players for the game? Nothing like that happened. The matter of fact is that AIFF gave the Olympics priority over the world cup. Even after Brazil offered to sponsor the travel of the team, AIFF didn’t agree, claiming “disagreements over team selection and insufficient practice time”. 

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