Sports events serving as platforms for protest or advocacy are not a new phenomenon. In the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022, LGBTQIA+ activists staged a protest at the FIFA Museum in Zurich, highlighting the rights of the community in anticipation of the tournament hosted by Qatar.

Similarly, on February 1, 2024, the staff of Hyderabad FC staged a peaceful protest at Gachibowli Stadium during the match between HFC and FC Goa, emphasising their plea for overdue salaries through a banner that read, “Salary, please, HFC Staff”. The protest shed light on Hyderabad FC’s severe financial crisis over the past two years, leading to the departure of both foreign and domestic players due to payment defaults.

Despite clinching the ISL championship in the 2021-2022 season, the club’s challenges stress the crucial role of a well-supported staff in a club’s success. Fair remuneration for their efforts is not a privilege but a basic human right.

Globally, Indian football continues to strive for recognition, with the Indian Super League (ISL) established to elevate the sport in the country.

However, issues like salary disputes within the league’s first decade necessitate prompt action not only from the clubs but also from the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) and Football Sports Development Ltd, urging the formulation of strict rules for staff and player payments. The AIFF must enhance oversight to monitor clubs’ managerial activities closely.

Arsene Wenger in his recent visit to India said that there is a gold mine here when it comes to football talent. To harness this potential, increased supervision and regulatory measures are imperative for the smooth functioning of football clubs.