The Real Reason Why India didn't play in the 1950 FIFA World Cup even though it qualified!
Sunil Chettri’s impassioned plea of “…abuse us, but come and watch us” has got some well deserving interest back to Indian football, but India’s standings worldwide in football still an abysmal 97th.
This wasn’t always the case. There was a time in 1950 when India was invited to join the FIFA world cup but we refused. Can you imagine?!! We decided not to go.
There have been multiple theories floating around about why this happened.
One was that we refused because FIFA would not allow our players to compete barefoot. In 1948 Olympics India had played barefoot. And FIFA did impose a rule banning barefoot play following this. But this was not the only reason that we did not play.
The other theory is that we just couldn’t afford to send our players all the way to Brazil, the host nation, at that time. But this is not the reason either. The organizers had offered to pay most of the travel expense to get India to Brazil.
According to then Indian captain Sailen Manna, the real reason was that we just didn’t recognize the importance of the FIFA World Cup. And the authorities rated Olympics higher than FIFA!!
As he told Sports Illustrated, “We had no idea about the World Cup then. Had we been better informed, we would have taken the initiative ourselves. For us, the Olympics was everything. There was nothing bigger.” Manna reflected sadly that, “Indian football would have been on a different level had we made that journey.”
Most experts agree that the 1983 World Cup win was the turning point in Indian cricket. Where the seed was planted for the mania it is today, trumping all other sports.
Would history of Indian Football be different if we had gone to Brazil in 1950? Unfortunately, we will never know!!
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