The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has recommended that junior India international Anwar Ali ‘should be restricted from competitive sports activity’ because of a congenital heart condition.
A senior All India Football Federation (AIFF) official said the chairman of AFC’s medical commission, Dato Gurucharan Singh, has warned that Ali’s illness could aggravate if he continued playing competitive football. The AIFF has called for a meeting of its Emergency Committee to take a final call on the issue. Mohammedan Sporting, Ali’s club, has said they will not register the defender’s name for the I-League qualifiers, which begin next month.
“The AFC has warned that the condition Anwar is suffering can cause cardiac arrest and hence, they have recommended these players should be restricted from competitive sports activity. Anwar can, however, play the sport as a leisure activity as the level of exertion will be less,” the AIFF official said. “This is the same observation the AIFF’s medical commission and leading doctors in India made as well. We have now called a meeting of the Emergency Committee to take a decision.”
Ali, the official said, has requested to be allowed to make a personal representation in front of the AIFF to plead his case. The federation is likely to accept his wish but it isn’t confirmed if Ali will be allowed to be present during the Emergency Committee meeting or in front of its medical commission.
The 20-year-old, who was a part of the Indian team that played in the 2017 under-17 World Cup, made an emotional appeal to the AIFF in a letter earlier this month. “Your disqualification of me will be a death sentence for me and my family. I’ll be forced to play in low-level tournaments…” Ali wrote. “If I wish to take an informed risk and am ready to monitor my condition with the help of medical experts, then it is ultimately my choice whether I wish to take the risk of playing football professionally.”
Last October, Ali was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscles become abnormally thick and affect the pumping of blood. Consequently, he was advised by medical experts to stop playing football and the defender terminated his contract with Indian Super League side Mumbai City with mutual agreement.
He recently signed for Mohammedan Sporting and was a part of their squad for the I-League qualifiers, which begin in Kolkata and Kalyani on October 8. However, the club’s technical director Dipendu Biswas said Ali’s name will not be registered for the tournament following the AFC’s recommendation.
Biswas said they are now exploring the possibility of fielding Ali in the Calcutta Football League and other local tournaments. Simultaneously, Biswas said efforts are on to help Ali get a government job to ensure financial stability for him as well as help him get through coaching courses.
“As things stand, he will not be eligible to play in the tournaments conducted by the AFC and AIFF,” Biswas said. “Anwar is training with the squad right now but his name will not be registered for the I-League qualifiers. We will check if he can play the Calcutta Football League since his contract with us is year-long. Ultimately, a coaching course or a government job will ensure he does not have any financial struggles so we will try to help him with that.”
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