Every four years, a frequently asked question is when will India play in the greatest sports show on earth—the FIFA World Cup. Such queries reach a crescendo as the World Cup fever picks up in the country. It is not well known, but India was also invited to participate in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. However, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) declined, as most Indian stars played barefoot and it was felt they would be out of depth if they had played with boots, as per FIFA rules. Years later, experts have questioned the validity of such a hasty decision. It is felt that if India, as a fledgling independent nation, had taken part in the 1950 World Cup, it would have given an impetus to the game in the country. It could have been a catalyst to hasten the onset of professionalism in Indian football (steps to make Indian clubs professional were instead taken 60 years later in 2010) and improve the status of the game in the country.
The prevailing impressions are that lack of finance is curtailing Indian football. This is an erroneous projection, as resource crunch is not a major factor. Lack of infrastructure, such as quality football stadiums and practice grounds, is a still an area of concern. But investments in football have increased rapidly.
Indian football is not languishing for lack of money. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) president, Praful Patel, got an Rs 12.5-crore grant from his NCP colleague, Sharad Pawar,