Asian Games Mystery Ends, India To Send Football Teams 

Sports ministry green lights participation of men’s and women’s teams in Hangzhou


Indian coach Igor Stimac.

Was it a rethink? Was it the impact of Igor Stimac’s message to PM Narendra Modi? Perhaps, a combination of both has resulted in the sports ministry confirming on Wednesday that it would be sending the men’s and women’s football teams to the Asian Games. 

The Games will be held in Hangzhou, China, from September 23.  

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had earlier stopped the Indian football teams from going for the Asian Games on the grounds that the teams were not ranked in the top-8 in Asia. The men’s team is No. 18 in the continent, while the women are No. 11.


On Wednesday, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur tweeted,  "Good news for Indian football lovers! Our national football teams, both Men’s and Women’s, are set to participate in the upcoming Asian Games. 

“The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, has decided to relax the rules to facilitate participation of both the teams, which were not qualifying as per the existing criterion. 

“Keeping in mind their latest performances in the recent times, the Ministry decided to grant the relaxation. I am sure they will put their best foot forward in the Asian Games and make our country proud.”

After the initial rejection, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) appealed to the Sports Ministry to allow the men's and women's sides to compete in Hangzhou. 


National senior team head coach Igor Stimac reached out to Prime Minister Modi and Thakur on social media, requesting them to allow the teams to go for the Asian Games.

"A humble appeal and sincere request to Honourable Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi ji and Hon. Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, to kindly allow our football team to participate in the Asian games. We will fight for our nation’s pride and the flag! Jai Hind!" Stimac had tweeted.

The Sports Ministry's instructions sent to the IOA and NSFs have a provision, "Where, in the opinion of the experts of specific sports disciplines, and that of Sports Authority of India, participation of individuals and teams in relaxation of the above criteria is recommended with justifiable reasons, the same will be considered in the Ministry for appropriate decision."