Football in India
CountryIndia
Governing bodyAll India Football Federation (AIFF)
(formed in 1937, joined FIFA in 1948)[1]
National team(s)Men
Women
Nickname(s)The Blue Tigers
First played1800s
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions
List
Audience records
Single match131,781
(1997 Federation Cup Semifinal: East Bengal F.C. VS Mohun Bagan A.C. at Salt Lake Stadium, 1997)[4]

Association football is one of the three most-popular sports in India, the others being cricket and kabaddi.[5] The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) recognises the Indian Super League as the national football league of India.[6] The Santosh Trophy is a knock-out competition among Indian states and government institutions.

India hosted the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the first FIFA event the country hosted; it was called the most successful FIFA U-17 World Cup ever, with a record-breaking attendance of 1,347,133, exceeding China's previous record of 1,230,976 in 1985. India also hosted the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and bid to host the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup but lost to Poland.[7]

The Indian national football team qualified for the 1950 FIFA World Cup but did not participate.[8]

History

Further information: History of Indian football and India national football team at the Olympics

Pre-independence

British soldiers introduced football into India in the mid-nineteenth century.[9][10] Games were initially played between army teams but clubs were soon set up around the country. In 1872, Calcutta FC was the first football club to be established, though the side may have originated as a rugby club that switched codes as late as 1894. Other early clubs include Dalhousie AC, Traders Club and Naval Volunteers Club.[11] Several other football clubs such as Sovabazar, Mohun Bagan and Aryan Club were established in Calcutta in the 1890s. Calcutta was then the capital of British India and soon became the hub of football. Tournaments like the Gladstone Cup, the Trades Cup and the Cooch Behar Cup were started around this time.[12] The Durand Cup and IFA Shield were both started in the late nineteenth century.

The first Indian team to achieve success was Sovabazar Club, which won the Trades Cup in 1892.[13] Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, which was set up in modern-day West Bengal in 1889, became famous in 1911 when it became the first Indian team to win the IFA Shield, a tournament previously won only by British teams based in India.[14] They defeated East Yorkshire Regiment 2–1 in the tournament's final in a victory that is still regarded as one of the greatest win by an Indian football team before independence.[15]

Players of Baroda Football Club, an Indian-European team, 1910–11.

The Indian Football Association (IFA) was established in Calcutta in 1893 but had no Indians on its board until the 1930s. The All India Football Federation (AIFF), the national governing body of football in India, was formed in 1937 but did not become affiliated with FIFA until at least a decade later. India insisted on playing barefoot whereas other national sides wore boots.[16] Footballer Jyotish Chandra Guha brought global attention to Indian football when he became the first Indian to appear with the English Football League club Arsenal in 1930.[17]

The golden age

India qualified by default for the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil because all of their scheduled opponents withdrew. India did not compete in the tournament. It was not because of a lack of financial assistance, particularly to purchase tickets for the sea journey, or because the team were not allowed to play barefoot.[16][18] According to sports journalist Jaydeep Basu, the financial barrier was solved as state associations provided financial help to the AIFF and that FIFA also promised to provide money.[8]

FIFA had imposed a rule banning barefoot play following the 1948 Olympics where India had played barefoot. According to then-captain Shailen Manna, this story was circulated to justify the AIFF's decision to not participate. Since 1950, the Indian national team has not come close to qualifying for the World Cup.[18][19][20][21] The AIFF had organised training is Calcutta for the 1950 World Cup and the board organised a series of meetings relating to India's participation but was not able to reach a decision. One to two weeks before the World Cup, the AIFF resorted to coming up with excuses to abandon the World Cup trip. This did not face much criticism in 1948 because the FIFA World Cup was not as popular as it is now.[8]

1951–1962 is widely considered the "golden age" of Indian football. In this period, the national team won numerous titles under the coaching of Syed Abdul Rahim. India won the gold medal in the first Asian Games in 1951, beating Iran by one goal. In 1956, no longer playing barefoot, India reached the semi-final in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, becoming the first Asian country to do so and ranking fourth in the tournament. In 1962, India again won the gold in the Asian Games at Jakarta, defeating South Korea 2–1.[16] India also won the Merdeka Cup and the Quadrangular Tournament, while East Bengal garnered good reviews after touring Romania. Also in 1951, India achieved their highest World Football Elo Rating of 31. According to former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, India is "the sleeping giant of world football".[22]

Decline

Rahim's death in the early 1960s caused the Indian national team to gradually lose their position as a top Asian team. India has not qualified for the Olympics since 1960.[16] India qualified for their first Asian Cup in 1964 but failed to win the title.[23][24] In an international tournament at the 1970 Asian Games, India won the bronze medal after defeating Japan 1–0.[25] The Indian national team qualified for the 1984 AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 1964 but failed to qualify for the knockout stage after finishing last in their group of five teams.[26]

The Indian youth team jointly won the Youth Asian Cup with Iran in 1974, the first and only title for India at the youth level.[27][28][29] In club football, on 24 September 1977, Mohun Bagan held onto a 2–2 draw at the Eden Gardens stadium in Calcutta, against a Pelé-led New York Cosmos.[30] Mohun Bagan would have won the tie had it not been for a controversial penalty awarded to the visiting team that ensured the draw.[31] The next day, the newspaper Ananda Bazar Patrika described Goutam Sarkar as "India's very own Beckenbaur".[32]

The Indian women's team as they began playing in the 1970s. In 1975, their first manager was Sushil Bhattacharya.[33][34] The Indian women's team were runners-up in the AFC Women's Asian Cup in 1980 and 1983. In the 1990s, the women's team rapidly declined and a series of defeats followed. In 2009, FIFA delisted the Indian women's team from the world rankings.[35]

2007–present

In August 2007, the Indian national team won the Nehru Cup for the first time, beating Syria 1–0.[36] In August of the following year, India defeated Tajikistan 4–1 to win the AFC Challenge Cup and qualified for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.[37] In August 2009, India again won the Nehru Cup, beating Syria on penalties (6–5).[38]

In January 2011, India played in the 2011 Asian Cup, the country's first Asian Cup for 24 years. India was eliminated in the group stage, which included South Korea, Australia, and Bahrain.[39]

Since the 2011 Asian Cup, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been working to improve Indian football. They allowed former coach Bob Houghton to coach the Indian team in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers.[40] After going first in their AFC Challenge Cup group, Houghton was replaced by Wim Koevermans.[41] The India national under-23 football team won the first round of the 2012 Olympics qualifiers against Myanmar but were eliminated by Qatar.[42] India played their next official matches against United Arab Emirates in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, which India lost on aggregate 5–2.[43]

In 2014, India hosted the first Unity World Cup in Goa, Hyderabad and Bangalore. India has participated in and hosted the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament. This was the first time a team representing India participated in the finals of a FIFA-organised world tournament. India was placed in Group A along with the United States, Ghana and Colombia.[44] On 6 October 2017, India played their first match in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in front of 47,000 people against the United States, losing the match 0–3.[45] India played their second match against Colombia. In the 82nd minute, Jeakson Singh became the first Indian goal scorer in the finals of a FIFA-organised tournament.[46] For the third match of the group stage, India played Ghana, losing the match 4–0 and finishing at the bottom of Group A.[47]

In 2018 Indian youth football teams made history by defeating Argentina U-20 2–1 in the COTIF cup, as well as Iraq U-16, the defending champions of the AFC U-16 Championship (now the AFC U-17 Championship), by 1–0. The U-16 team qualified for the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship, where they came close to qualifying for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, but lost to South Korea by a single goal in the quarterfinal.[48]

The Indian national team qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after missing the 2015 edition. India beat Thailand by 4–1, their biggest-ever win at the Asia Cup and their first win in 55 years.[49][50] Nevertheless, they lost both of their next two group matches against UAE and Bahrain by 0−2 and 0−1 respectively[51][52] and finished at the bottom of the group, thus failing to move to the knockout stage.[53]

Administration

Football in India is administered by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), which is affiliated with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the worldwide football governing body FIFA.[54][55][56] The India national football team has entered the regional Asian Cup competition but has never competed in a World Cup. The India women's national football team has also played in competitions, and has its own inter-state and state competitions. Youth football is administered by the Sports Authority of India.

National team

National teams of India

[check quotation syntax]

Football (Men's) Football (Women's) Football U-23 (men's) (Olympic team) Football U-20 (men's)
Football U-17 (men's) Football U-20 (women's) Football U-17 (women's) Futsal (men's)
Futsal (women's) Beach soccer (men's) Esports Minifootball / Football 6 / Football 7

The India national football team is governed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and is a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Since 1948, the AIFF has been affiliated with FIFA, the international governing body for world football. In 1954, the AIFF became one of the founding members of the AFC.[54][55][57] There are other Indian national teams, such as the under-23 team and the under-17 team.

Performance

The following list includes the performance of all of India's national teams at major competitions.

Men's senior team

Main article: India national football team

The Indian senior national team had several successes during their initial years but is no longer considered one of the best in Asia.[58][59] The national team's highest achievement is winning two gold medals at the Asian Games.

Tournament Appearance in finals Last
appearance
Best
performance
FIFA World Cup 0 out of 22 [a]
AFC Asian Cup 5 out of 18 2023 Runners-up (1964)
Summer Olympics (1908–1988) 4 out of 17 1960 Fourth-place (1956)
Asian Games (1951–1998) 11 out of 13 1998 Champions (1951, 1962)
SAFF Championship 14 out of 14 2023 Champions (1993, 1997, 1999, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2021, 2023)
South Asian Games 7 out of 8 1999 Champions (1985, 1987, 1995)
  1. ^ 1950 (qualified but withdrew)

Women's senior team

Main article: India women's national football team

The women's national team was started in the 1970s; they were twice runners-up in the Women's Asian Cup in the early 1980s. After the AIFF took charge of the team, they began to suffer massive defeats and declined in the late 2000s.[60][61] In the late 2010s, the AIFF revived the team to empower women's football and the team performed well in a large number of friendlies.[62] The AIFF won the hosting bid for the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup.

Tournament Appearance in finals Last
appearance
Best
performance
AFC Women's Asian Cup 9 out of 19 2022 Runners-up (1980, 1983)
Asian Games 3 out of 9 2022 Eighth-place (1998)
SAFF Women's Championship 6 out of 6 2022 Champions (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019)
South Asian Games 3 out of 3 2019 Champions (2010, 2016, 2019)

Men's U-23 team

Main article: India national under-23 football team

Tournament Appearance in finals Last
appearance
Best
performance
Asian Games 4 out of 5 2014 Tenth-place (2002)
South Asian Games 4 out of 5 2016 Runners-up (2004, 2016)

Men's U-20 team

Main article: India national under-20 football team

Includes them U-19 and U-18 teams' performance.

Tournament Appearance in finals Last
appearance
Best
performance
AFC U-20 Asian Cup 22 out of 40 2006 Champions (1974)
SAFF U-18 Championship 4 out of 4 2022 Champions (2019, 2022)

Men's U-17 team

Main article: India national under-17 football team

Includes the U-16 and U-15 teams' performance.

Tournament Finals
appearance
Last
appearance
Best
performance
FIFA U-17 World Cup 1 out of 19 2017 Group stage (2017)
AFC U-17 Asian Cup 8 out of 18 2018 Quarterfinals (2002, 2018)
SAFF U-15 Championship 7 out of 7 2022 Champions (2013, 2017, 2019, 2022)

Women's U-20 team

Main article: India women's national under-20 football team

Includes the U-19 and U-18 teams' performance.

Tournament Finals
appearance
Last
appearance
Best
performance
AFC U-20 Women's Asian Cup 3 out of 10 2006 Quarterfinals (2004)
SAFF U-18 Women's Championship 3 out of 4 2023 Champions (2022)

Women's U-17 team

Main article: India women's national under-17 football team

Includes the U-16 and U-15 teams' performance.

Tournament Finals
appearance
Last
appearance
Best
performance
FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 1 out of 7 2022 Group stage (2022)
AFC U-17 Women's Asian Cup 1 out of 8 2005 Group stage (2005)
SAFF U-15 Women's Championship 3 out of 4 2019 Champions (2018, 2019)

Affiliated state federations and state leagues

Main article: List of Indian state football associations

See also: Indian State Leagues

There are currently 38 state associations affiliated with the All India Football Federation.[63]

Full members

No. Association State/UT President
1 All Manipur Football Association Manipur M. Ratan Kumar Singh
2 Andaman and Nicobar Football Association Andaman and Nicobar Islands Vidya Prakash Krishna
3 Andhra Pradesh Football Association Andhra Pradesh Gopalakrishna Kosaraju
4 Arunachal Pradesh Football Association Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu
5 Assam Football Association Assam Naba Kumar Doley
6 Bihar Football Association Bihar Prasenjeet Mehta
7 Chandigarh Football Association Chandigarh K. P. Singh
8 Chhattisgarh Football Association Chhattisgarh Ajay Chandrakar
9 Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu Football Association Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu
10 Football Association of Odisha Odisha Debashish Samantaray
11 Football Delhi Delhi Saraftullah (acting)
12 Goa Football Association Goa Caitano Fernandes
13 Gujarat State Football Association Gujarat Parimal Nathwani
14 Haryana Football Association Haryana Suraj Pal
15 Himachal Pradesh Football Association Himachal Pradesh Baldev Singh Tomar
16 Indian Football Association West Bengal Ajit Banerjee
17 Jammu and Kashmir Football Association Jammu and Kashmir Wasim Aslam
18 Jharkhand Football Association Jharkhand Mithlesh Kumar Thakur
19 Karnataka State Football Association Karnataka N. A. Haris
20 Kerala Football Association Kerala Tom Jose
21 Ladakh Football Association Ladakh Tashi Namgail
22 Lakshadweep Football Association Lakshadweep K. Mohammed Ali
23 Madhya Pradesh Football Association Madhya Pradesh Trilok Chand Kochar
24 Meghalaya Football Association Meghalaya Larsing Ming Sawyan
25 Mizoram Football Association Mizoram Lal Thanzara
26 Nagaland Football Association Nagaland Neibou Sekhose
27 Pondicherry Football Association Puducherry D. Nestor
28 Punjab Football Association Punjab Samir Thapar
29 Rajasthan Football Association Rajasthan Manvendra Singh
30 Sikkim Football Association Sikkim Menla Ethenpa
31 Tamil Nadu Football Association Tamil Nadu Jesiah Villavarayar
32 Telangana Football Association Telangana Mohammed Ali Rafath
33 Tripura Football Association Tripura Ratan Saha
34 Uttar Pradesh Football Sangh Uttar Pradesh Arvind Menon
35 Uttarakhand State Football Association Uttarakhand Amandeep Sandhu
36 Western India Football Association Maharashtra Praful Patel

Affiliate members

No. Association Department President
1 Railways Sports Promotion Board Indian Railways D. K. Gayen
2 Services Sports Control Board Indian Armed Forces Dinesh Suri

State Leagues list

Club competitions

As of 2023, India has four national-level leagues. The Indian Super League is the top league, followed by I-League, I-League 2 and I-League 3. I-League 3 currently acts as a final round for the top teams in the state leagues that are nominated by state football associations. India has several cup tournaments, including the Durand Cup, Super Cup and IFA Shield.[64][65]

Evolution of the tier system

See also: Indian football league system

Years 1888–1893 1893–1898 1898–1941 1941–1977 1977–1996 1996–1997 1997–2001 2001–2006 2006–2007 2007–2011 2011–2014 2014–2017 2017–2022 2022–2023 2023–2024 2024-present
Level None 1893 1937
National leagues 1 Formation of Indian Football Association (IFA) Calcutta Football League Formation of All India Football Federation (AIFF) Santosh Trophy National Football League I-League Indian Super League Indian Super League
I-League
2 None None NFL Second Division I-League 2nd Division I-League
3 None NFL Third Division Discontinued I-League 2
4 None I-League 3
Regional leagues 5–11 State leagues
Tournaments/

Cup competitions

Durand Cup
IFA Shield
Federation Cup Super Cup Federation Cup
Indian Super Cup Discontinued
Santosh Trophy


Leagues

Tier 1: Indian Super League

The I-League, which was promised to be a professional league, soon lost popularity due to poor marketing.[66] A deal between Zee Sports and the AIFF, which was initially to be a ten-year term in 2006, was terminated in 2010 after a disagreement between the parties. The AIFF then signed a 700-crore deal with Reliance Industries and the International Management Group (IMG) on 9 December 2010.[67] The Indian Super League (ISL) was officially launched on 21 October 2013 by IMG–Reliance Industries, Star Sports, and the AIFF to grow the sport of football in India and increase its exposure in the country with big names and professionalism.[68] Large corporations, Bollywood stars and cricketers between them bought eight franchises.[69]

In 2017, the AFC opposed allowing the ISL to become the main league in India, but the I-League clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan wanted a complete merger of the ISL and I-League.[70] Two weeks later, the AIFF proposed the Indian Super League and I-League would simultaneously run on a short–term basis, with the I-League winner qualifying for the AFC Champions League and the ISL champion reaching the AFC Cup qualification stage.[71] The AFC approved this proposal on 25 July 2017, with the ISL replacing the domestic cup competition, the Federation Cup, which was a true knockout cup competition.[72]

Two seasons later, the AIFF and AFC met again to determine the future for Indian football. After the meeting, it was announced the Indian Super League would become the top-tier league with the AFC Champions League slot while the I-League was now the domestic cup tournament with the AFC Cup slot.[73][74] The AFC also made some key recommendations: the first was to open a pathway for two I-League clubs to enter into the ISL by the end of the 2020–2021 season, subject to certain criteria being fulfilled. The second recommendation was to allow the winner of the I-League a chance of promotion to the ISL with no participation fee, with the AIFF defining the basic fulfilling sporting merit and the national club-licensing criteria starting in the 2022–2023 season. The final recommendation was to introduce promotion and relegation into the top league by the end of the 2024–2025 season, and to abolish the existence of two parallel leagues.[75]

The 2023-24 season was the first season where a promoted team from I-League participated. Punjab FC became the 12th team in the ISL following their promotion from the I-League as champions in the 2022-23 season. The 2024-25 season will see Mohammedan SC participate in the ISL as the 13th team as the 2023-24 I-League champions.

While promotion has been implemented, relegation has yet to be adopted between the ISL and the I-League.

Tier 2: I-League

Starting in the 2022–2023 season, I-League lost its top-tier status. The champions of the 2022–23 I-League, Punjab FC, were promoted to the ISL with no participation fee. As per the AFC's recommendation for 2024–2025, it was agreed the AIFF would fully implement promotion and relegation between the two leagues.[76]

As of 2024, there have been two promotions from the I-League to the ISL but the relegation system is yet to be implemented.

Tier 3: I-League 2

After demoting I-League to the second tier status in Indian football, I-League 2 was subsequently demoted to the third tier. AIFF renamed the 2nd Division to I-League 2 to avoid disambiguation.[77] I-League and I-League 2 follow both promotion and relegation within the two leagues.

Tier 4: I-League 3

I-League 3 is set to serve as a platform for state champions and state-nominated teams.[78][79][80] No ISL reserve teams can be a part of I-League 2 or I-League 3.[81]

Tier 5–10: Indian State Leagues

There are currently a total of 37 state associations (including union territories) affiliated with the AIFF.[82] These state associations are affiliated with state leagues. The top teams of state leagues are eligible to apply for I-League 3. Some state leagues have multiple divisions and a promotion/relegation system between these divisions. Calcutta Football League in West Bengal is the oldest state league and has the highest number of divisions (seven divisions) with a promotion/relegation system in place.[83]

Cups

List of All India football tournaments
Competition Organizer Host city/state
Durand Cup DFTS (Durand Football Tournament Society) & AIFF Various
Super Cup AIFF Various
IFA Shield IFA Kolkata

Durand Cup

In 1888, the Durand Football Tournament, commonly known as the Durand Cup, was started by India's foreign secretary Mortimer Durand at Simla. The Durand Cup's initial matches were played in Dagshai and was created as a form of recreation for British troops stationed in India. The Durand Cup was suspended during World War I and World War II. In 1940, the tournament's venue was shifted to New Delhi.[84][85][86][87][88][89][90][91]

Super Cup

The Super Cup is a knockout football tournament. A total of sixteen teams participate in the cup. All the ISL clubs get automatic entry while the remaining spots are contested for by the I-League teams.[92][93]

IFA Shield

The IFA Shield is an annual football competition organized by the Indian Football Association (IFA) in West Bengal.[94] It was started in 1893, and is the fourth-oldest club cup competition in the world after the FA Cup, the Scottish Cup and the Durand Cup. Along with local clubs in Bengal, clubs from other parts of India and from overseas are able to participate in this tournament.[95][96]

List of Defunct All India football tournaments
Competition Organizer Host city/state
Nehru Cup AIFF Various
Federation Cup AIFF Various
Indian Super Cup AIFF Various
Rovers Cup WIFA Mumbai

Nehru Cup

The Nehru Cup was an international football tournament organised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), named after the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. It was launched in 1982, but was not held from 1998 to 2006. After the trophy was won by Iraq in 1997, it was reinstated only in 2007 before officially being held last in 2012 and was replaced in 2017.

Federation Cup

The Federation Cup (Fed Cup) was an annual, knockout-style, club football tournament in India that started in 1977. Until I-League's inception in 1997 (then called the NFL), it was the most-prestigious, national-level, club football tournament in India.[97] Previously, the winning club of the Fed Cup had a chance to compete at the continental level in the AFC Cup along with the I-League champion team. The Fed Cup has been discontinued since the 2017–2018 season when a new Super Cup was inaugurated.[98][99]

Indian Super Cup

The Indian Super Cup was Indian football's annual match contested between the champions of the previous National Football League or I-League season and the holders of the Federation Cup, usually held at a neutral venue. If the League champions also won the Federation Cup then the league runners-up would provide the opposition. The fixture was usually considered the curtain raiser to the Indian football domestic season.

Rovers Cup

Rovers Cup was incorporated by some British football enthusiasts in Bombay, Bombay Presidency, in 1890, as a form of amusement. After the foundation of Bombay Football Association (BFA) in 1902, the tournament became well organized. Patronised by Justice Russell, the tournament was firstly opened to British teams.[100] Later in 1911, Western India Football Association was founded as a result of merger between BFA and Rovers Cup Committee.[101][100] After justice Russel became president and P. R. Cadell became vice-president of WIFA, Indian clubs were given opportunity to participate, and Bengal United (a squad formed with Indian soldiers serving in British battalions) became first Indian team to compete.[100] The tournament was suspended from 1914 to 1920 due to the World War I. Some legendary players from Great Britain, including Arsenal winger Denis Compton, Scottish international Tommy Walker and English international Bobby Langton appeared in the tournament in mid-20th century with visiting overseas teams.[100]

Champions overview

The competitions currently active in Indian football in the 2023–24 season.

Men's

Club competition
Tournament Current champions
Indian Super League
Super Cup East Bengal
Durand Cup Mohun Bagan SG
I-League Mohammedan
I-League 2 Sporting Bengaluru
I-League 3 Sporting Goa
Youth League Classic FA
Futsal Club Championship Minerva Academy
State competition
Tournament Current champions
Santosh Trophy Services
National Games (Men) Services
Swami Vivekananda NFC (U20) Delhi
Junior NFC (U19) Mizoram
Sub-Junior NFC (U16) Meghalaya
National Beach Soccer Championship Kerala

Women's

Club competition
Tournament Current champions
Indian Women's League Odisha
Indian Women's League 2
State competition
Tournament Current champions
Rajmata Jijabai Senior Women's NFC Manipur
National Games (Women) Odisha
Junior Girl's NFC (U19) Manipur
Sub-Junior Girl's NFC (U17) Jharkhand

Qualification for Asian competitions

See also: Indian clubs in the Asian Football

Competition Qualifying team Notes
AFC Champions League Two Premiers of Indian Super League Qualification to the Group stage
AFC Cup Winners of Super Cup Qualification to the Qualifying play-off
AFC Women's Champions League Champions of Indian Women's League TBD

Women's football

Main article: Women's football in India

Women's football in India was administered by the Women's Football Federation of India (WFFI) from 1975 until the early 1990s when the WFFI was absorbed into the AIFF. There are complaints women's football is treated as inferior to the men's game, leading to unfulfilled plans to de-merge the WFFI.[102]

In India, women's football began in West Bengal. The large Kolkata teams East Bengal and Mohun Bagan started women's club sides in the 2000–2001 season, and they participate with other teams in the Calcutta Women's Football League.[103] Players from Odisha and Manipur have made advances in the game and make up a large part of the India women's national football team.[104]

The women's national competition is played on a state-against-state basis in the India women's football championship.[105] There are similar national championships for junior teams like the Junior Girls National Championship for under 19s and the Under-17 Girls National Championship.[106]

Some Indian female players have become internationally recognised. Among them are Chitra Gangadharan who was selected to play for the All Asian Star team. Jaanki Kotecha was selected as captain to the All Asian Star Team in 2008–2009 and led her team to victory. In February 2000, Sujata Kar and Alpana Sil became the first Indian footballers to sign a contract outside India. They signed with the German team TSV Crailsheim but had to return to India after a month due to problems with the clearance of their international transfer.[107]

Until 1983, women footballers took part in international tournaments like the AFC Women's Asian Cup. The Indian team won silver in 1980 at Calicut. In later years, the status of the Indian women's team declined. During the 2003 AFC Women's Championship, the Indian team was defeated 12–0 by China.[108]

The AIFF's poor support of the national women's team became evident when a trip to Germany was only made possible by Non Resident Indians in that country and by the support of the German Football Association. Championships are held in remote locations, and national media coverage is said[109] to be restricted to state and local newspapers.[102]

In June 2009, FIFA delisted the Indian women's side from its world rankings for being inactive for more than 18 months. At that time, the game was gaining in popularity with young Indian females, as evident by the local leagues in the country. The Mumbai Women's Football League of 2009–2010 was organised by the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) was a major success and included many players who had played for the national team. The popularity of the event gave hope of a resurgence of the women's game in India.[110]

Indian Women's League

On 21 April 2016, over a year after the AIFF started plans for a women's football league, AIFF president Praful Patel said a women's football league would begin in October 2016 with six teams, and was planned to be expanded to eight teams by 2017.[111] On 5 July 2016, the AIFF organized a workshop to discuss the India women's national team and the proposed women's football league. Indian Super League sides Delhi Dynamos, Chennaiyin FC, Kerala Blasters, FC Pune City and Atletico de Kolkata, and I-League teams Bengaluru FC, Aizawl FC and Mumbai FC attended the workshop. It was announced the league would consist of the eight teams in the league and two other teams would be chosen through a pre-qualification round.[112]

On 14 October, the AIFF announced the preliminary rounds for the Women's League would begin on 17 October 2016; ten teams are split into two groups of five teams and the winner from each group qualifies for the national finals.[113]

Stadiums

As of 2023, few of India's national football stadiums meet current world standards. The largest football stadiums in India are the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata with a seating capacity of 68,000 and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi with a capacity of over 60,000. The Barabati Stadium in Cuttack and Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar are major arenas for football events in Odisha. In Sikkim, the 30,000-capacity Paljor Stadium in Gangtok is famous as one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world because of its backdrop of the Himalayas. The main stadium in Shillong is the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with a capacity of 30,000 standing. Both the Paljor and the JLN in Shillong have been renovated with artificial playing surfaces. Some other important stadiums are the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, Barasat Stadium in Barasat, the Fatorda Stadium in Goa, the Kaloor International Stadium in Kochi, the Municipal Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Guwahati and the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad. There are hundreds of other stadiums in the country. The following stadiums are affiliated by All India Football Federation.[114][115][116][117][118][119][120][121][122][123][124][125]

Tenants Name City State Capacity Image
East Bengal FC, Mohun Bagan Salt Lake Stadium Kolkata metropolitan area West Bengal 68,000
Punjab FC Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Delhi Delhi 60,254
Greenfield International Stadium Thiruvananthapuram Kerala 50,000
Gokulam Kerala FC EMS Stadium Kozhikode Kerala 50,000
DY Patil Stadium Navi Mumbai Maharastra 45,300
Birsa Munda Football Stadium Ranchi Jharkhand 40,000
Kerala Blasters Kaloor Stadium Kochi Kerala 40,000
Chennaiyin FC Marina Arena Chennai Tamil Nadu 40,000
Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium Kollam Kerala 40,000
Mangala Stadium Mangalore Karnataka 40,000
Kanchenjunga Stadium Siliguri West Bengal 40,000

International competitions hosted

Competition Edition Winner Final Runners-up India's position Venues Final venue Stadium
Men's senior competitions
Asian Games Football at the 1951 Asian Games  India
1 – 0
 Iran Champions 1 (in 1 city) Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium
Asian Games Football at the 1982 Asian Games  Iraq
1 – 0
 Kuwait Quarterfinals 3 (in 1 cities) Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Delhi)
AFC Challenge Cup 2008 AFC Challenge Cup  India  Tajikistan Champions 3 (in 2 cities) Ambedkar Stadium
SAFF Championship 1999 South Asian Football Federation Gold Cup  India
2 – 0
 Bangladesh Champions 1 ( in 1 city) Fatorda Stadium
SAFF Championship 2011 SAFF Championship  India  Afghanistan Champions 1 (in 1 city) Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Delhi)
SAFF Championship 2015 SAFF Championship  India  Afghanistan Champions 1 (in 1 city) Greenfield International Stadium
SAFF Championship 2023 SAFF Championship  India
(5 – 4 pen.)
 Kuwait Champions 1 (in 1 city) Sree Kanteerava Stadium
Men's youth competitions
FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup  England
5 – 2
 Spain Group stage 6 (in 6 cities) Salt Lake Stadium
AFC U-19 Championship 2006 AFC Youth Championship  North Korea
1 – 1
(5 – 3 pen.)
 Japan Group stage 4 (in 2 cities) Salt Lake Stadium
AFC U-16 Championship 2016 AFC U-16 Championship  Iraq
0 – 0
(4 – 3 pen.)
 Iran Group stage 2 (in 2 cities) Fatorda Stadium
SAFF U-15 Championship 2019 SAFF U-15 Championship  India
7 – 0
   Nepal Champions 1 (in 1 city) Kalyani Stadium
SAFF U-20 Championship 2022 SAFF U-20 Championship  India
5 – 2 (a.e.t)
 Bangladesh Champions 1 (in 1 city) Kalinga Stadium
Women's senior competitions
AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup  China
3 – 2
 South Korea Withdrew (due to Covid-19 breakout) 3 (in 3 cities) DY Patil Stadium
SAFF Women's Championship 2016 SAFF Women's Championship  India
3 – 1
 Bangladesh Champions 1 (in 1 city) Kanchenjunga Stadium
Women's youth competitions
FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2022 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup  Spain
1 – 0
 Colombia Group stage 3 (in 3 cities) DY Patil Stadium

Nehru Cup

The Nehru Cup was an international invitational association football tournament organised by the AIFF and named after the First Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.[126]

Editions Winners
1982  Uruguay
1983  Hungary
1984  Poland
1985  Soviet Union
1986  Soviet Union
1987 Soviet Union Soviet Union
1988 Soviet Union Soviet Union
1989  Hungary
1991  Romania
1993  North Korea
1995  Iraq
1997  Iraq
2007  India
2009  India
2012  India

Tri-Nation Series

The Tri-Nation Series is a three-team football tournament organised by the AIFF. The first edition was held in 2017.[127]

Editions Winners
2017  India
2023  India

Intercontinental Cup

The Intercontinental Cup is a four-team association football tournament organised by the AIFF. The first edition was held in 2018.[128]

Editions Winners
2018  India
2019  North Korea
2023  India

Football Broadcast in India

Domestic competitions

List of current broadcasters:

Competition Television rights Streaming rights Ref.
Conglomerate Channel(s) Conglomerate Platform
Indian Super League Viacom18 Sports18 Viacom18 JioCinema [129]
I-League WBD India Eurosport Dream Sports FanCode [130]
Indian Football YouTube channel
I-League 2 None Indian Football YouTube channel [131]
I-League 3 None [132]
Indian Women's League None [133]
IWL 2nd Division None
Super Cup None Viacom18 JioCinema [134]
Durand Cup SPNI Sony Sports SPNI SonyLIV [135]
Santosh Trophy None FIFA FIFA+ [136]
Senior Women's NFC None SportsKPI YouTube channel [137]
Intercontinental Cup Disney India Star Sports Disney India Disney+ Hotstar [138]
Reliance Jio TV
Tri-Nation Series Disney India Star Sports Disney India Disney+ Hotstar [139]
Gold Cup TBD
Futsal Club Championship None Dream Sports FanCode [140]
National Beach Soccer Championship Indian Football YouTube channel [141]


International competitions

International club football

List of current broadcasters:

Country

(or) Confederation

Competition Television Rights Streaming Rights Ref.
Conglomerate Channel(s) Conglomerate Platform
FIFA FIFA Club World Cup WBD India Eurosport India Dream Sports FanCode [142]
UEFA UEFA Champions League SPNI Sony Sports SPNI SonyLIV [143]
UEFA Europa League
UEFA Europa Conference League
UEFA Super Cup
UEFA Women's Champions League None DAZN Group DAZN [144]
DAZN Women's Football YouTube channel
England Premier League Disney India Star Sports Disney India Disney+ Hotstar [145]
FA Cup SPNI Sony Sports SPNI SonyLIV [146]
FA Community Shield [147]
EFL Cup None Dream Sports FanCode [148][149]
EFL Championship
EFL League One
EFL League Two
Women's Super League [150]
France Ligue 1 Viacom18 Sports18 Viacom18 JioCinema [151][152]
TV5Monde TV5Monde Asie Reliance Jio TV
Coupe de France None DAZN Group DAZN [153]
Trophée des Champions None
Germany Bundesliga SPNI Sony Sports SPNI SonyLIV [154]
DFB-Pokal [155]
DFL-Supercup [156]
Italy Serie A Viacom18 Sports18 Viacom18 JioCinema [157]
Reliance Jio TV
Coppa Italia None
Supercoppa Italiana
Netherlands Eredivisie WBD India Eurosport India WBD India Discovery+ [158]
Scotland Scottish Premiership Viacom18 Sports18 Viacom18 JioCinema [159][160]
Scottish League Cup
Scottish Championship [161]
Spain La Liga Viacom18 Sports18 Viacom18 JioCinema [162]
Reliance Jio TV
Copa del Rey None Dream Sports FanCode [163]
Supercopa de España [163]
Liga F None DAZN Group DAZN [164]
DAZN Women's Football YouTube channel
AFC AFC Champions League Elite Viacom18 Sports18 Dream Sports FanCode [165][166]
AFC Champions League Two [167]

[166]

AFC Challenge League
China Chinese Super League None Dream Sports FanCode [168]
Japan J1 League [169]
Saudi Arabia Saudi Pro League SPNI Sony Sports SPNI SonyLIV [170]
King Cup [171]
CONCACAF Leagues Cup None Apple Apple TV+

(MLS Season Pass)

[172]
United States Major League Soccer [173]
US Open Cup SPNI Sony Sports SPNI SonyLIV [174]
Australia A-League None Dream Sports FanCode [175]

International football

List of current broadcasters:

Federation

(or) Confederation

Competition Television Rights Streaming Rights Ref.
Conglomerate Channel(s) Conglomerate Platform
FIFA FIFA World Cup Viacom18 Sports18 & MTV Viacom18 JioCinema [176][177]
Reliance Jio TV
FIFA U-20 World Cup None FIFA FIFA+ [178]
FIFA U-17 World Cup None Dream Sports FanCode [179]
FIFA Women's World Cup Prasar Bharati DD Sports Dream Sports FanCode [180]
FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Viacom18 Sports18 Viacom18 Voot [181]
FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Reliance Jio TV [182]
AFC AFC Asian Cup Viacom18 Sports18 Viacom18 JioCinema [183]
AFC Asian Cup qualifiers SPNI/ Viacom18 Sony Sports/ Sports18 SPNI/ Viacom18 SonyLIV/ JioCinema [184][a]
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – AFC
AFC U-23 Asian Cup None Dream Sports FanCode [187]
AFC U-20 Asian Cup None Reliance Jio TV [188]
AFC U-17 Asian Cup [189]
AFC Women's Asian Cup WBD India Eurosport WBD India Discovery+ [190]
Reliance Jio TV
AFC U-20 Women's Asian Cup None Dream Sports FanCode [187]
AFC U-17 Women's Asian Cup [187]
SAFF SAFF Championship Prasar Bharati DD Sports Dream Sports FanCode [191][192]
SAFF U-20 Championship None Sportzworkz YouTube channel [193]
SAFF U-17 Championship [194]
SAFF Women's Championship Website of Eleven Sports [195]
SAFF U-20 Women's Championship Sportzworkz YouTube channel [196]
SAFF U-17 Women's Championship [197]
UEFA UEFA Euro SPNI Sony Sports SPNI SonyLIV [198]
UEFA Nations League
UEFA Euro Qualifiers
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – UEFA [199]
UEFA Women's Euro [200]
CONMEBOL Copa América [201]
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – CONMEBOL None Dream Sports FanCode [202]
CAF Africa Cup of Nations None Dream Sports FanCode [163]
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – CAF [203]
CONCACAF CONCACAF Gold Cup None VUSport [204]
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – CONCACAF None Dream Sports FanCode [205]
  1. ^ Home matches of FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers were broadcast by Sports18 and JioCinema.[185][186]

Football clubs on social media

The Kerala Blasters ranked fifth place in the top five most popular football clubs on social media from Asia excluding China as of 31 October 2018.[206] Note that the Chinese football clubs Guangzhou FC, Shandong Taishan, Beijing Guoan, the Tianjin Jinmen Tiger and Shanghai Shenhua ranked above the Kerala Blasters with millions of followers on Weibo.[207]

# Football club Country Followers
1 Persib Indonesia 15.4 million
2 Al-Hilal Saudi Arabia 11.3 million
3 Al-Ittihad Saudi Arabia 4.6 million
4 Persija Indonesia 4.2 million
5 Kerala Blasters India 3.6 million

Seasons

The following articles detail the major results and events in each season of Indian football since 2011.

2010s: 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18 2018–19 2019–20
2020s: 2020–21 2021–22 2022–23 2023–24 2024–25

See also

In popular culture

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Further reading