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Kushal Das – AIFF have held discussions on PIO and OCI inclusion only with Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports

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The inclusion of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders in the Indian national team has been an issue that has been in the news of late.

The Blue Tigers’ head coach Igor Stimac has been a huge advocate of the same, arguing that the move will help raise the quality of the national team.

Currently, the Government of India does not allow PIO and OCI card holders to represent India in sports tournaments. A valid Indian passport is a pre-requisite to be included in the Indian national teams.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) are receptive to Igor Stimac’s suggestions and have held discussions with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) regarding the same.

Several reports have quoted Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narendra Batra as saying that such a proposal will be rejected due to India’s policy of not allowing dual passports.

However, the AIFF have held discussions on this topic only with the MYAS and not with the IOA, according to General Secretary Kushal Das.

“We have not held discussions with the IOA on the includion of PIO and OCI players in the national team. We have approached and discussed it with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The guideline on Indian passports is from MYAS and not from IOA,” he told Goal.

Earlier, Batra told Republic TV – “There is no question of considering such proposal. Only valid Indian passport holders can represent India. If the PIOs and OCAs have Indian passports then definitely they will be considered. But if not then, there is no question of giving them an opportunity.

“We do not believe in dual Passport policy. If they hold other countries passport how can IOA and international bodies allow this to happen. It’s not ethical and a right thing to do,” he stated.

However, the final decision on this matter falls under the aegis of the Union Ministry and not IOA. It remains to be seen whether the Government decides to amend the rules when it comes to sporting events.

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