The FIFA World Cup, a peak of football excellence, unfolds every four years, uniting nations in an exciting display of skill and passion. As the world’s 22nd instalment of this grand spectacle evolved in Qatar from November 20th to December 18th, 2022, football lovers worldwide are still wondering why India is not in FIFA. But, even though there was excitement, passionate fans in India felt a strong sense of emptiness. They still had not seen their country compete internationally, even though football was becoming more popular in India.
India’s football journey to the World Cup has faced obstacles. While 32 top teams competed in Qatar, India’s absence made fans and experts question why. We’ll look at the issues behind why India is not in FIFA, the hurdles it is facing and why we are not able to make it to the global platform.
Reasons Why India Could Not Make It To FIFA
There are several reasons why India is not in FIFA and is still facing issues in becoming known on the global platform. Here are some significant reasons:
Unstoppable Craze For Cricket
The unparalleled madness surrounding cricket in India has been the biggest reason why India is not in FIFA. Cricket enjoys a religious status, with billions of devoted followers. While other leagues like ISL (Indian Super League) have gained some traction, they are still behind compared to the mighty IPL (Indian Premier League). The Indian national football team and certain I-league clubs garner only modest attendance, except for notable fixtures like the Kolkata derby. The immense impact of a roaring crowd backing a team cannot be underestimated. The overwhelming dominance of cricket’s fan base has inadvertently cast a shadow over football’s potential, stopping its growth in India.
Lack Of Proper Management
Indian cricket’s success is due to its well-structured management, with state-level bodies accountable to the BCCI filtering talent through local academies. Football lacks this hierarchy. The AIFF (All India Football Federation), India’s football governing body, lacks state subdivisions, often tainted by corruption, clearly showing why India is not in FIFA. Football relies on club structures needing private sponsorships for growth and player training. However, limited returns deter private firms, and the sport’s audience remains limited. Government investment is hampered by low returns, impeding football’s rise to fame in India.
Suspension Of AIFF By FIFA
The suspension of AIFF by FIFA raised concerns about third-party influence, risking women’s under-17 World Cup participation and revealing political interference in Indian football. Despite attempts to improve the national team and tournaments, India struggles for FIFA World Cup qualification due to governance issues, which is a big reason why India is not in FIFA. Its ban underscored challenges in creating a competitive football ecosystem. Sepp Blatter, former President of FIFA, once called India a ‘sleeping giant,’ but slow progress and external forces hinder growth. The short-lived suspension exposed governance problems.
Legal conflicts are actually a big reason why India is not in FIFA, stopping efforts to make it bigger. The Indian Super League (ISL) was a promising project supported by Reliance, similar to how the IPL transformed Indian cricket. But it faced a big problem. People who started the existing I-League disagreed with the ISL creators. They had a fight about which league was better. Even though the ISL attracted great football players interested, these legal fights have made it hard for Indian football to reach its potential. The sport’s progress has been slowed because of these legal arguments, taking away attention from developing talent and improving the game.
The failure of football in India is also caused by improper infrastructure. The absence of quality stadiums and proper training facilities restricts the sport’s growth. Even big clubs need more essential medical and training amenities. The lack of international-standard football stadiums across the vast Indian geography, despite a massive fan following and over 30 million viewers of the European Football League, highlights a significant issue. In popular football regions like Delhi, establishing dedicated football centres and training facilities is imperative to nurture emerging talents. A shortage of long-term vision and investment further explains why India is not in FIFA.
India’s absence from FIFA can be attributed, in part, to the stark contrast in fan support compared to cricket. While cricket has a massive following, other sports, including the Indian national team and I-league clubs, often see large attendance, usually hovering around 10,000 spectators per game, barring exceptions like the Kolkata derby. The impact of an enthusiastic crowd cannot be overstated, and this disparity underscores the vital role that a passionate fan base plays in propelling a team’s success on the international stage. This factor is equally responsible for why India is not in FIFA.
India can get an advantage in the first round of Asian qualifying for the 2026 World Cup because they are currently ranked among the top 20 Asian teams in the FIFA Men's rankings.
The unparalleled popularity of cricket in India is one of the leading causes of football's underappreciation.
India should place second in its group, at the very least. If this is the case, India will advance to round three and get a step closer to the 2026 FIFA World Cup. India will be able to qualify for the World Cup with a top-two result in the third round.
The FIFA Ranking of the Indian football squad right now is 99.
Despite automatically qualifying for the 1950 World Cup after all other countries in their qualification group withdrew, India has never participated in the FIFA World Cup. India, however, quit the event before it started.