The inside story on why a nation with just over 40 lakh people could enter into football world cup finals and not India that has 131 crore population

Croatia, a small nation with just over 4 million in population is making rounds on the internet after it made its entry into the world cup finals for the first time. Croatia that came into existence on 1991 had made its World Cup debut in 1998 and even reached the semifinal in the same year. However it lost to France to by 4-2 goals.

Even though the football fever is all over but cricketer Harbhajan Singh has pushed Indians into a serious discussion with his tweet. Harbhajan Singh, also known as the Turbanator of the Indian cricket had tweeted,

  • While Croatia, which has a population of just around 50 lakh, is playing the FIFA World Cup final, while we in India, with a population of 135 crore, are playing “Hindu Muslim”.

He made this tweet using a hashtag ‘soch badlo desh badlega (change your thinking, the country will change)’.

A serious discussion is indeed needed on Harbhajan Singh’s tweet but even the answer for this is very simple. The current president of the Croatian Football Federation, Davor Šuker, was a former footballer who had won the ‘Golden Boot’ in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France by scoring six goals in seven matches.

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Davor Šuker, Croatian football coach

But this is not the case when it comes to India’s sporting associations as it is either headed by politicians or their close aides. India is populated, but with talented youths. India is skilled yet needs dedicated support from authorities.

More than everything, a sporting association will definitely make progress if the President is of a sporting background. But almost every sports associations in India has its own story. Can a battalion of brave soldiers conquer its enemies if their commander is not from the armed forces? No, isn’t it.

After analyzing who had headed various sports associations in India in the past will give a clear answer on why India has failed to win medals in major sporting events like Olympics, FIFA World Cup and so on.

All India Football Federation:

Though India has about a century of experience in the field of football, it never rose up from its all time best ranking of ’94’ which was achieved in the year 1996. The current ranking of Indian football team is 97 in the world that has around 200 countries.

So who is responsible for this pathetic condition of Indian football? Those familiar with the management of the football would have definitely heard the name of Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who remained as the President of ‘All India Footbal Federation’ for 20 years.

He belonged to the Indian National Congress and had held several positions in the central government. He was replaced only after he suffered a stroke that left him in coma in 2008.

But he was replaced Praful Patel, who was again a politician from NCP. Croatia’s football president is a former footballer but India’s football heads are politicians. Its like a bus driver trying to run a train.

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Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi

Judo Federation of India:

Even in the field of Judo, India hasn’t made a significant name for itself. Even in this sport, a politician was heading this association for 27 years. he was none other than Jagdish Tytler, a disciple of Sanjay Gandhi.

He is accused of involving in the anti-Sikh riots that took place after the death of Indira Gandhi in the year 1984. Even the official report of the Nanavati Commission of the Government of India on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots found ‘credible evidence’ against Tytler.

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Jagdish Tytler


Now the Judo federation is headed by Mukesh Kumar, who is close aide of Tytler.

Indian Olympic Association:

When we talk of ‘Indian Olympic Association’, the only name we could recall is of Suresh Kalamadi. He was the President of the Indian Olympic Association during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It was he who was responsible for literally damaging India’s image in front of the world during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Again he was from the Indian National Congress and had even served jail terms for taking part in corrupt activities. His political career started with becoming the President of the Indian Youth Congress, Pune in 1977.

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Women’s Hockey Association:

Indians could recall ‘Chadke India India’ film and nothing else when it comes to women’s hockey though there is some amount of progress made in this sport by our ladies in the past few years. Even ‘Women’s Hockey Association’ wasn’t free of politics as this association was headed by a Congress leader for 26 years until 2010.

Vidya Stokes, a Congress leader headed Women’s Hockey Association since 1984 to 2010. Her tenure of 26 long years came to an end only to get elected as Hockey India President in 2010.

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Vidya Stokes

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI):

Fixing, glamour and Bollywood was always a part of cricket. Along with it, even politicians heading this sport in India grew up as a culture. Luckily it didn’t stop the nation from becoming a world class team. While various state cricketing board were under politicians over the years, even the BCCI was headed by a politician.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar was the Chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India from 2005 to 2008. He was keen in casting his power over sports associations since his beginning of political career.

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Sharad Pawar

Indian Olympic Association, Indian Triathlon Federation, Tamil Nadu Cycling Association, Tamil Nadu Squash Rackets Association, Tamil Nadu Olympic Association:

Too many associated but a single man, and he is Narayana Ramachandran. He is the brother of the former Chairman of BCCI and ICC, N Srinivasan. and belongs to Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK).

He had head several associations as president and vice-president. Even his wife was a President of a sports association.

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Narayana Ramachandran


By now one might have got the answer why India is not winning any medals in major sporting events other than Cricket. Recently released movie ‘Soorma’ had given goosebumps to its audience. Soorma was based on the life of hockey player Sandeep Singh.

Why can’t Indian sport association be headed by players like Sandeep Singh and not by the politicians who cannot do justice to the sport? Until when will we Indians be satisfied for just one or two medals in the Olympics? Until when will we Indians post on social media stating “India lost the match but won millions of hearts”?

Until when will we Indians curse the footballers for not qualifying into the world cup? There is no dearth of talents in India, but need a major shuffle in the management.

Let the associations be headed by able former players, I’ll ensure you that from every nooks and corners of the nation we will see the rise of thousands of Hima Das, Colonel Dhyan Chand, Milka Singh, Mary Kom, PT Usha and many more legends like them.

Jai Hind

Hansika Raj