Why Didn’t India Play After Qualifying For 1950 FIFA World Cup?

Indian football fans often complain why the Indian Football team fails to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. Well, it is not like India never qualified for the Football world cup. In 1950, India did manage to earn a qualification ticket for the FIFA World Cup that Brazil hosted. But India didn’t play a single match in that edition of FIFA World Cup. What was the reason behind leaving such a golden opportunity?

The 1950 FIFA World Cup was hosted by Brazil. The football world cup was returning after getting canceled two times (1942 & 1946) due to World War 2. India received the direct qualification after Philippines, Indonesia and Burma withdrew before the qualification round. India was seeded in the group 3 with the defending champion Italy, Sweden and Paraguay. However, India withdrew from the tournament at the last moment.

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There are many stories related to this that India didn’t participate in the 1950 FIFA world cup as the Indian players wanted to play barefoot whereas FIFA has banned playing barefoot following the 1948 Summer Olympics. But this wasn’t the exact reason behind India’s withdrawal from the tournament.

Indian players had to travel to Brazil from Burma for the world cup, which was way too expensive and according to some historians, AIFF wasn’t very confident about their players, so it refused to send its players to Brazil. There are some arguments that Brazil, the host of the tournament, even offered to pay the traveling expenditure of Indian teams but AIFF refused.

According to an India’s Sports Illustrated magazine, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced that the Indian team would not attend the1950 FIFA World Cup, citing “disagreements over team selection, and insufficient practice time.”

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Clearly, leaving a world cup spot over travel cost was a big mistake of AIFF as it’s been 73 years, India never got another such chance and who knows how longer this wait would extend…

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