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Igor Stimac vs AIFF: Sacked India Men's Coach Lays Bare Long List of Allegations

Former Indian football team Igor Stimac made numerous allegations against the AIFF. We unpack everything he said.

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Football
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Following his expulsion from the position of the Indian men’s football team’s head coach, Igor Stimac organised a press conference on Friday (21 June), where he laid bare a prolonged list of allegations against the nation’s football governing body – All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Stimac, who was appointed as the Indian head coach on 15 May 2019, led India to four trophies during his tenure – the SAFF Championship in 2021 and 2023, the Tri-Nation Series in 2023 and the Intercontinental Cup in the same year.

His ousting comes after India’s rather disappointing campaign at the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers, where the Blue Tigers could not make it to the third round, following a draw against Kuwait and a defeat to Qatar in their last couple of outings.

Let’s unpack every allegation Stimac made during the press conference:

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Allegation 1: ‘I Was Fed With Lies’

Stimac revealed that he had decided already decided to resign, irrespective of India’s results in the matches against Kuwait and Qatar. Moreover, he said a few players, including former captain Sunil Chhetri, were aware of his decision, which he had taken after being tired of “lies” the AIFF fed him.

I had decided to resign irrespective of our results (in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification matches). There are witnesses who know very well that my decision was taken a long time ago. Some of my senior players knew I would leave my position even if we qualified for the third round, because it was impossible for me to continue without any support. I was being fed lies, people were more concerned about their personal interests.
Igor Stimac

Additionally, he stated that the Kalyan Chaubey-led board had stated they would extend Stimac’s contract only if he took the team to the quarter-final of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. With three consecutive defeats, India finished plum last in their group.

There was no mutual trust. AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey accepted the schedule of the national team without even consulting me, which is a breach of the contract. I couldn't do anything about it as I was focused on the games ahead of us.
Igor Stimac

Allegation 2: Indian Team’s Calendar Was Finalised Without Stimac’s Approval

Although India’s recent performances have been dismal, they had a great start to 2023, winning three competitions – Tri-Nation Series, Intercontinental Cup and SAFF Championship.

Stimac revealed that he had a meeting with Chaubey about the way forward for the Indian team, but the AIFF president confirmed the team’s participation in Thailand’s King’s Cup and Malaysia’s Merdeka Tournament without any consultation with the coach.

After the SAFF Championship final last year in Bengaluru, I called for an urgent meeting and Kalyan Chaubey attended it. I spoke about what the national team can achieve if we are given proper time. The games we played were beautiful and brought a lot of happiness. I explained to them clearly in what position Indian football was at that moment. They were aware of a hugely challenging year ahead of us. I told them if they don't change things radically, and don't organise meetings with responsible stakeholders like FSDL, it will become very difficult.
Igor Stimac
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Stimac believes that by participating in those tournaments, the Indian team had less time to prepare for the Asian Cup.

Whatever they arranged – the King’s Cup, the Merdeka Tournament – it hurt our team. The new people in the office decided to arrange games without even consulting me. Because they agreed to play in the King’s Cup and Merdeka Tournament, we had less time to prepare for the Asian Cup.
Igor Stimac
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Allegation 3: Stimac Was Not Allowed To Pick His Preferred Squad for Asian Games

In a rather shocking revelation, Stimac said that the AIFF did not let him pick his preferred squad for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, but instead made him pick a squad they preferred:

Everybody knows what kind of circus was going on before the Asian Games. I warned them that we have been working very hard to grow youngsters quicker and I wanted to show in the Asian Games that India has enough strength without senior players, but my list of players was changed. Everything was destroyed. There was no communication within the parties in our own football house.
Igor Stimac
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Allegation 4: Stimac Was Prohibited From Speaking With the Media by AIFF

In yet another disclosure, Stimac stated the AIFF did not allow him to speak to the media. The former coach had mentioned the FIFA World Cup qualification matches being more important for the Indian team than the Asian Cup, following which he received a “warning letter.”

Stimac also revealed that the stress got him admitted to the hospital, where he had heart surgery.

Knowing we were not going to get enough time for preparation, I said a few things in public. I was getting show-cause letters from the AIFF for speaking out. After I said the World Cup qualifiers would be more important than the Asian Cup, I received a final warning letter from AIFF. When I received the final warning letter on 2 December last year, I finished in the hospital. I was really disturbed with everything and I had immediate surgery on my heart, getting two stents. I was putting myself on the line for the Asian Games when I should have been resting. In such conditions, I went to defend the colours of my country. 
Igor Stimac
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Allegation 5: Stimac Had Conveyed His Decision To Resign, but Was Still Sacked

Further, Stimac also revealed that he had conveyed about his decision to leave the position to AIFF’s acting general secretary M Satyanarayan, a day after the team’s 1-2 defeat to Qatar – that is – the decision was conveyed on 12 June.

However, AIFF still decided to terminate his contract. Now, it is being reported that the board will have to pay a hefty severance package to the Croat.

I have told you that I decided that I would leave and say goodbye to India a long time back. But on the very first day after the game against Qatar, I got a call from Satya (AIFF acting general secretary M Satyanarayan), asking me about accepting the Intercontinental Cup in July. I was amazed at the lack of knowledge about football among these people. They don’t even have any clue about football. They only care about their powers and how to stay in their positions. Satya asked if I would be okay with receiving three months' salary and leaving my position. I told him to stay patient for a few days, as I am already speaking with other places. But suddenly, on the next day, I received my termination letter. This was only half a day after telling Satya to be patient and not come under social media pressure. I was hurt once again. That was not something which should happen in a serious organization. Now they are panicking as the sum is huge. They are probably talking with their commercial partner, but I don't care anymore. It was a great honour. I will always be a fan of the Indian team.
Igor Stimac
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Allegation 6: AIFF President Was Instated Politically

Lastly, Stimac also went on an explosive rant against the AIFF president, stating Kalyan Chaubey – who became the AIFF president by beating former captain Bhaichung Bhutia 33-1 a couple of years ago – was politically instated in the organisation.

Kalyan Chaubey was politically instated in the AIFF. He has been lying to me all along. Besides that he is the AIFF president, no one knows him. If he did not walk around with armed bodyguards, people would not care about Kalyan. I once had a meeting with him for three minutes, and he looked at his watch five times within those three minutes. All he cares about is how many likes he is getting on social media, and how many images he is clicking with famous people in football.
Igor Stimac

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