Andhra Pradesh, which once had five members in the Indian team which played in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, is unlikely to field a team in the prestigious Santosh Trophy football national championship, scheduled to be held in Orissa in May.

This is because of the inability of the rival groups in the state association to sort out their differences. Presently they are involved in a long drawn out tussle with cases pending in court.

“The organising committee has decided not to entertain any team from AP for the Nationals unless each and every issue is settled amicably — both in the court of law and outside.

“So, I don't see the possibility of an AP team taking part because there is a court hearing on April 2,” stated Mr. Kushal Das, general secretary of All India Football Federation in a chat with The Hindu on Thursday.

“From our side we have tried out best. The AIFF had appointed a retired High Court Judge to look into the ways and means of solving all pending disputes and come out with a solution which should pave way for AP Football Association elections (last held in 2006 but not recognised by the AIFF) in a democratic manner,” he said.

It may be recalled that last year, when a group in the APFA did send a team to the Guwahati Nationals, it was forced to come back after reaching Kolkata as the organising committee did not recognise the team as a true representative of APFA. Ironically, that team had former international Mohd Habeeb as its coach.

“We are still optimistic of finding a way out despite the mess the sport is in right now in Andhra Pradesh,” the AIFF general secretary said. “But honestly, I am not sure of the APFA affairs getting sorted out before the Santosh Trophy,” he added.

Meanwhile, G.P. Phalguna, former international footballer, and Dr. Mohd Ali Rafat, IAS and an avid football lover, appealed to the AIFF to ensure that the sport doesn't suffer in the state.

“We feel that AIFF can take charge of the affairs directly or even ask a panel from either the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh or the AP Olympic Association to run the show so that the State team can be fielded in the Santosh Trophy,” they said in a letter to the AIFF.

“Our interest is that the players should not suffer because of these politics. Already the State team has not taken part in the Santosh Trophy for five years now,” they stated.

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