Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia and owner of United Sikkim FC (USFC) has said that there is a need for a complete overhaul of the existing football system.
“The Indian football structure needs a drastic overhaul in terms of marketing and youth development programmes,” Bhutia told talking to reporters in Shillong on Tuesday. Bhutia said Indian football can be developed if emphasis is shifted on youth development, especially on those from the northeast, and better marketing.
Criticizing the frequent stopping of the game by the referees, Bhutia said, “Indian referees are killing the game. When the flow of the game is disrupted frequently, people lose interest. Sometimes I even tend to change channels while watching I-League games due to these frequent stopping of the game by the referees.”
Comparing Indian football to the Spanish and Barclays Premier league games, the skipper said, “The standard of football refereeing in India is far below international level. Good refereeing builds the interest in the game and they should allow the game to flow.”
Bhutia also criticised the ground conditions in Shillong. Bhutia said, “The turf is difficult. We don’t have big body strikers. We play ground passes that the ground does not allow.”
“The ground conditions are very poor. The Polo Stadium is not up to the mark and it is a pity that we have to play all matches there. Good grounds play a major role in development of football. It is poor grounds that sometimes decide a match here and thus the level of the game is poor.”
“People of Shillong love football and we feel sorry for them as they come to the ground and do not get to see a good football match”.
“A good ground can give some 30—40 per cent lift to the game and people can watch quality football,” Bhutia said.
Bhutia’s new club Sikkim United has played three matches in Second Division I League. All of the three matches have been drawn. They next face Mohammedan Sporting in a crucial encounter.
(With inputs from PTI and UNI)