Coach Nicolai Adam.
India’s preparations for the under-17 World Cup have been severely jeopardised after the players, on Tuesday, wrote a letter to the All India Football Federation (AIFF), saying they will not play under chief coach Nicolai Adam due to strained atmosphere in the camp under him. The players submitted their letter, in Adam’s presence, to AIFF president Praful Patel during a meeting at his residence. Although the AIFF said they haven’t sacked the German yet, a senior official said there are minimal chances of him continuing as the coach due to the seriousness of the charges against him.
In the letter, the players have accused Adam and his Azerbaijani assistant, Etibar Ibrahimov, of physically abusing them and using foul language. The AIFF general secretary Kushal Das did not divulge the details of the letter but said they have launched an investigation into the allegations.
“Yes, the players have given a written complaint against Nicolai. There are many mentions but at this point in time, we are investigating and I’m not in a position to comment right now. There are comments about various things (in the letter),” Das said.
The Indian Express spoke to parents of six players. A few said the AIFF had asked them not to speak to the media but others mentioned that they had heard about the coach’s short temper from their kids. However, they denied hearing about any instances of physical abuse. The sports ministry has been apprised of the development.
Adam, who was formerly the coach of Azerbaijan under-19 national team, was appointed as India’s U-17 coach in early 2015 after being recommended by the German football federation. Since his appointment, the AIFF has spent close to Rs 8 crore on the team’s preparations, an official said.
The U-17 team had stayed and practised together in Goa and travelled to various countries to take part in tournaments and friendly matches. However, the AIFF has not been entirely happy with the team’s performance under him as they have barely won a match.
During the meeting on Tuesday, the performance of the team was also discussed along with the way forward. However, with Adam’s future now uncertain, the preparations have been thrown into disarray. When asked if Adam would be asked to leave, Das said: “It’s too far-fetched to say that. There is a complaint, so we will look into it.”
The under-17 World Cup, which is the biggest international football tournament to be played in India, is scheduled to be played from October 6 to 28 across six cities.
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