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Football in India


Association football is one of India's most popular sports, and is said to rank second only behind cricket in popularity, although some reporting considers football to be more popular . Football is a played in almost all schools in India. Football is also said to be the top sport in the states of Goa, Kerala and West Bengal.
Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), in the state of West Bengal, is considered to be the home of Indian football. The city contains the two most famous Indian teams East Bengal Club and Mohun Bagan AC.

Structure of the game

The game in India is administered by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), which is affiliated to the regional Asian Football Confederation, as well as to the worldwide body FIFA. The Indian national team has entered into the regional Asian Cup competition as well as the World Cup. The Indian women's national team has also played in various competitions. Youth football is administered by the governmental Sports Authority of India.
The game is also administered at state levels by state football associations, some of which predate the AIFF. The Indian Football Association, which is responsible for the game in the state of West Bengal, used to be in de-facto charge of the game in India before they pushed for the creation of a national body in association with other state associations.
Below the national administrative level, the game is administered by state-wide football federations. Some of these predate the AIFF, and were instrumental in its founding.
Club teams compete at national, state and district levels in India. There are also inter-state and inter-district competitions. The highest level club teams in India compete in the National Football League. Women's football (see below) has its own separate inter-state and state competitions.
The standard of Indian football (compared globally) is poor - the national team is ranked past 100th place in the world, and is said to struggle to qualify for both the World Cup and the Asian Cup. Part of this has been put down to the lack of opportunities for proper training and development of players in the country.

History

Football in India was spread during the days of the British Empire. Many football clubs in India were created during this time, and pre-date many of the organisations and clubs, such as FIFA, which are predominant in the game today. Initially games were played between army teams, however clubs were soon set up around the country. Mohun Bagan Athletic Club was set up in what is now West Bengal and is considered the oldest football club in Asia. The club became famous in 1911 when it became the first Indian team to lift the IFA Shield, a tournament previously won only by British teams based in India. It defeated the Eastern Yorkshire Regiment 2-1 in the final of the tournament in a victory that is still regarded by many as the greatest by an Indian team before Independence.
The national football team was also quite successful until the 1970s, qualifying for Olympic tournaments and the FIFA World Cup. The team qualified for the 1950 World Cup finals in Brazil, but could not appear as they still played in their bare feet at that time. The Indian team also won the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games gold medals in football. In 1956 the team finished fourth at the Melbourne Olympics

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