Contract worth almost 30-lakh reveals wide access to Stimac's team
NEW DELHI: It was bad enough that astrology was thought of as crucial in today's modern-day football. A company was duly contracted to probably help decide team formations based on favourable planetary alignments to help India qualify for next year's Asian Cup. Now documents accessed by TOI reveal that all of it may have been a cover for something else altogether, serious enough for a forensic audit to be initiated within the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Signed on April 29, 2022, by AIFF general secretary Kushal Das on the agreement to "assist Head Coach of National Team, Men," the AIFF had "appointed Nyassa Astrocorp (GST No. 07BBAPS4367L1Z7), for a fee of Rs 24 lakhs plus GST for a period of three months from April 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022. Bhupesh Sharma, of Nyassa Astrocorp, is the co-signatory to the agreement. Situated in a service lane in the residential N-Block of Green Park Extension in the Capital, the company claims to provide corporate astrology services, personal and career consultancy, as per its website.
According to the contract, the amount was supposed to be paid in three instalments of eight lakhs (plus applicable GST), "on each of 21 April, 15 May and 15 June 2022. In addition to the fee, AIFF will also reimburse Nyassa all expenses on actuals during the performance of the duties," the agreement read.
The payment for June has been halted after this came to light, while a sum of Rs 16 lakh had already been paid to the firm and in this bewildering arrangement, there was a provision to extend this partnership to a further two years. "The AIFF shall have first right of negotiation to renew this agreement for a further of two years," the April 29 contract had added.
The bizarre allotment of funds is a telling commentary on the AIFF administration. The matter must be probed and those responsible for recruiting the agency must be taken to task.
What is interesting is that in the stipulated three-month period of their contract, while it was being claimed that three sittings had been done with the Indian team - one in Bellary and twice in Kolkata last month - none of the players recall having interacted with anyone of this nature. "We didn't have any talk," a senior player told TOI on condition of anonymity.
If insiders are to be believed, national coach Igor Stimac was told of this arrangement as being for the benefit of the National team. Stimac, currently on vacation in Poland, could not be contacted for comment.
"We are looking to initiate a forensic audit into the matter and other such related issues," Sunando Dhar, AIFF acting general secretary told TOI.
Apart from developing "brand image and international appeal of AIFF National Football Team, Men" on eve of such an important qualifying campaign and "providing encouragement and motivation advice to prepare players," listed among the duties for Nyassa was "recruiting new players for the team … and analyzing the strength and weakness of each and every player."
With a dedicated support staff already available for the team and a full camp after a long season, the astrology firm was even expected to "assist the planning session, dispensing advice, helping the player to develop both as individual and a team."
While Nyassa was allowed to "file scouting reports detailing player assessments and provide recommendations on recruitment," they could also maintain "paper, computerized and video records of players, team and opposing teams," almost as if at liberty to run a parallel coaching programme.
What is staggering is that this arrangement could have continued unchecked had the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators not sniffed into allegations of financial corruption in Football House. Crucially, was the revelation of this peculiar arrangement the reason that led to the hasty exit of Kushal Das on Monday, ostensibly on medical grounds but oddly enough on eve of the Fifa-led team's arrival to assess whether Indian football needed to be banned after the apex court moved in and dismissed president Praful Patel for hanging on well past his tenure and resisting to hold elections?
Kushal Das was not available for comment.