The All India Football Federation Decided to shift the Tri-Nation football series from Chennai after some ridiculous demands by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) for using the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai.
SDAT demanded Rs 5 lakh per game (2 lakhs according to other reports) and additional charges for using practice facilities, dressing room and generator. AIFF were unwilling to meet these demands and decided to shift the tournament to Mumbai where the cost would be at least 10 times less.
This is not the first time Chennai has lost an opportunity to host the national team, AIFF were forced to shift two International friendlies against Philippines and Nepal from Chennai back in 2013 as the then Chief Minister J Jayalalitha hadn’t inaugurated the stadium. Despite several requests from the AIFF, the stadium was not made available to the team. This had infuriated the AIFF and Chennai was completely neglected as a venue for the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017.
The SDAT demands have also received a backlash from Chennai City FC in the past; the club even threatened to pull out of the stadium but managed to reach an agreement to lower the demands. Chennai City FC reportedly paid 3 lakh per day to use the stadium for I-League.
Chennai City FC have now decided to change their base from the city and one of major reason for this decision was the demands made by the SDAT.
It was during June 2008 that the Indian Football Team had last played at Chennai, India drew 2-2 against Chinese Taipei in front of a few hundred supporters. Since then a lot has changed. Chennai has made good strides in football, with 2 professional clubs Chennaiyin FC and Chennai City FC operating from the city. Chennaiyin FC reportedly draws an average attendance of more than 20 thousand during its matches while the local league has also seen some great development and is touted to be the best league in South India.
But with SDAT’s demands it is highly unlikely that international football will be played at Chennai in the near future.
SDAT aren’t new to controversies , They were at the receiving end of backlash from the athletic fraternity earlier this year due to the poor maintenance of the facilities.