“Made with the sole intent of maligning:” AIFF react to Igor Stimac’s media statements

AIFF responded to the allegations made by Igor Stimac after the sack from the role of the Indian Men's Football team’s head coach. The governing body of Indian football said that Stimac tried to put AIFF in a poor light.

Abishek Goswami
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AIFF responds to Igor Stimac’s allegations

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The All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) responded to the comments made by Igor Stimac after the sack from the role of the Indian Football team’s head coach on Monday 17th June. The Croatian tactician held a press conference on Friday where he made many accusations against AIFF. The federation finally opened up and denied all his allegations.

Read Also: 7 things Igor Stimac said after getting sacked by AIFF

AIFF sacked the Croatian following a disappointing AFC Asian Cup 2023 and FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers campaign. Stimac had taken charge of the Blue Tigers on May 15, 2019, after the departure of Stephen Constantine. The Croatian always addressed the importance of football’s development in the country but the fans lost their patience with Stimac as the team was losing matches and delivering disappointing results continuously.

Igor Stimac's stats as the Head Coach of India

His first campaign with India was the 2019 King's Cup where India lost to Curcao by 3−1. But, in the next match against Thailand, the Blue Tigers managed to win by 1−0, handing Stimac his first win as head coach. India finished third with only six points in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and couldn't qualify for the tournament. The Blue Tigers earned a place in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualification. They reached the Asian Cup finals in Qatar after a 2–0 victory over Cambodia, a 2–1 victory over Afghanistan, and a 4–0 victory over Hong Kong at Kolkata. 

Stimac was untouchable in 2023. He became the first foreign head coach to win back-to-back SAFF Championship titles. Stimac led India to three titles in 2023, the most ever won by India in a calendar year. The Blue Tigers won the 2023 Tri-Nations Series TrophyIntercontinental Cup, and SAFF Championship under him in 2023. India also achieved eight consecutive clean sheets in 2023, breaking the previous record of seven in 1952. Igor Stimac's side was 99th on the FIFA team rankings in 2023, their best since 2018.

But then the downfall began. India failed to score a single goal and were knocked out of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 with 0 points. The Blue Tigers lost to Australia by 2-0, then got humbled by Uzbekistan (3-0) and helped Syria qualify for the round of 16 after a 1-0 loss in Qatar. India then went on to play a 0-0 away draw against Afghanistan in the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

The fans were expecting the team to perform better at home but India lost the game by 2-1 at Kolkata, followed by 'Stimac Out' chants. The hopes were still alive but after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Kuwait and a controversial 2-1 loss against Qatar forced them out of the qualification race.

Stimac coached India for 53 matches from 2019-2024 and witnessed 19 wins, 14 draws, and 20 losses. 






Goals scored

Goals conceded








India's titles under Igor Stimac

  • SAFF Championship: 2021, 2023
  • Tri-Nation Series: 2023
  • InterContinental Cup: 2023

Under Stimac's tenure, India won two SAFF Championships, one Intercontinental Cup, and a Tri-Nations Series. He became the first India coach to win three trophies in a year, winning the SAFF Championship, Tri-Nations Series, and the Intercontinental Cup last year. However, India's poor outing in the AFC Asian Cup and the World Cup Qualifiers forced AIFF in his sacking.

Read Also: “Left a few questions unanswered:” Kalyan Chaubey questions FIFA after controversial goal in Qatar vs India match

AIFF Responds to Igor Stimac’s Allegations

The federation denied his allegations that he was not given access to any AIFF officials and had several in-person and virtual interactions with President Kalyan Chaubey during his tenure. In the statement, AIFF admitted to Strimac’s remarks on the unavailability of the GPS equipment but said that it was unavailable for only 50 days but the Croatian claimed that it was over 200 days which is “obviously misleading and an attempt to exaggerate the matter for effect.”

The statement also shed light on Stimac’s contract situation. When his contract came up for renewal in October 2023, the then Secretary General and AIFF legal consultant negotiated and finalized and the then Secretary General signed the contract with Mr. Stimac. The executed contract provides for a salary raise to US$ 30,000 per month from February 2024 to January 2025 (as approved by the Core Committee) and US$40,000 per month from February 2024 to January 2026 (without Core Committee approval for the said amount). The specific instructions regarding inserting termination clauses favourable to AIFF were also not followed before executing the contract. However, certain clauses for termination for cause were retained in the contract.

The statement also addressed Strimac’s selection of support staff. AIFF said that his demands of having particular person had also gone unquestioned.

Despite all the support, the coach always blamed the federation and according to him everything and everyone else was wrong and responsible for any given situation except himself.

Various players showed their concerns regarding Mr. Stimac’s coaching style and tactics which caught the attention of the AIFF on multiple occasions.

“He intentionally misrepresented facts, to gain sympathy from other nation’s coaches and the AFC at the reputational cost of India, the AIFF, and Indian football,” read the statement.

On his ‘imprisoned’ remarks on the state of Indian football, AIFF responded that it was said to get way out of his responsibilities. “It is ironic that someone who was the prime person controlling the fortunes of the national team considers that Indian football is imprisoned and has not grown. It is fashionable to blame the entire system on the way out, especially when you do not wish to take any personal responsibility”, the statement said.

“He was offered the opportunity to part ways on mutual terms. He refused the offer, making unreasonable and unprofessional demands in response. The AIFF was, thus, left with no option than to terminate Mr. Stimac’s contract for just cause and in compliance with the terms of the contract, offering him a 3 months’ severance fee,” added AIFF.