In some startling news, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been hit by some serious allegations. Sona Chaudhary, former captain of the Indian Women’s Football Team has made some shocking revelations in her book ‘Game in Game’. Not only has she elaborated on issue of discrimination against women , but also alleged sexual harassment of players. Speaking with IBN7, this is what she said:

“There is a lot of exploitation of women players. Many times, female players were forced to compromise their bodies. During match visits, the coach and secretary slept in the same room as players, which made many of us highly uncomfortable. Many women went on pretending to be lesbians, just so that they could protect themselves from sexual harassment. We were very young at the time, so never spoke about these issues for the fear of losing out.”

Chaudhary was the captain of the Indian women’s football team in 1996-97, and is also the first woman from Haryana to become a national level football player. Unfortunately, she had to quit the sport in 1998 post the Asian Games due to severe injuries in her back and knees, for which she had to be operated and could never return to the field.  This is what she shared:

“I never got any coach because I was a female player. This is why both my knees and back are damaged for which I had to undergo 3 surgeries.”

Apart from the AIFF, Chaudhary also alleges discrimination by the state government. This despite  the fact that women’s football team’s rankings are much higher than those of men. While the women’s team is at number 58, men stand at 162.

“I applied for a Bhim award to Haryana government. The response I got was that they had never received a female player’s application, so they did not know what to do with it.”

Chaudhary has also revealed that during her initial days, the coach wouldn’t take her practice, for he didn’t want to waste time training a woman. The same coach made students stand in a line and clap for her when she got into the national team. Sona further sums it all up:

“Football is only a means of highlighting these practices that are rampant in every sport and games. Even if you go to the sports hostel today, you will know a completely different inside story.”

As far as the AIFF is concerned, an insider who requested anonymity reacted to these statements made by Chaudhary, saying that as ‘the allegations’, so to speak are too vague and do not point out at a specific case or incident, and hence the office could not respond. Will any more heat be generated over this? Watch this space.

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