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Is Anwar Ali’s career coming to a standstill?

Ipshita Bagchi

Anwar Ali

Indian footballer, Anwar Ali takes AIFF to court on the grounds of denial of Right to Livelihood.

Anwar Ali, 20, is an Indian footballer who is currently regarded as one of the most promising and upcoming footballers in the country. He currently plays for ATK in the Indian Super League. ATK is an Indian professional football club based in Kolkata, West Bengal.

What is the Anwar Ali fiasco?

Last year, during a medical examination in Mumbai, Ali was diagnosed with a heart problem called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). Following this he was advised by multiple medical experts in India and abroad to avoid playing strenuous and competitive sports.

His case was also brought to the medical panel of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The AIFF recommended that Ali “should be restricted from competitive sports activity”.

An AIFF official stated that “The AFC has warned that the condition Anwar is suffering can cause cardiac arrest and hence, they have recommended he should be restricted from competitive sports activity.

In September Ali wrote to the AIFF, claiming that the “act is completely against my fundamental rights, especially my right to earn livelihood and practice my profession.”

His lawyer is of the view that if a club is willingly and knowingly letting him play professionally, the federation has “no power to ban him”.

Contesting these recommendations, Ali filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court stating that by prohibiting him from playing professionally they are denying him his Right to Livelihood.

Which heart condition does Ali have?

Ali is diagnosed as having Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It is characterized by severe reduction of blood being pumped in and out with each heartbeat. It is caused by abnormal genes in the heart muscle causing the walls of the left ventricle to contract harder and become thicker than normal. 

Ali’s career post-diagnosis

Soon after his diagnosis, Ali terminated his contract with the Indian Super League side Mumbai City with mutual agreement. The ISL side Mumbai City, offered him a different role as a coach of their youth team. However, Ali rejected the offer and the contract was mutually terminated. He recently joined Kolkata-based Mohammedan Sporting.

Ali was set to play in the I-League qualifiers, starting October 8, but after the AIFF and AFC’s recommendations, Sporting have not registered him for the tournament.

Anwar Ali

Ali pleads for his case

Anwar went ahead and made an emotional appeal to the AIFF in early September. He wrote, “Your disqualification of me will be a death sentence for me and my family. I’ll be forced to play in low-level tournaments.” He further 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.”

Anwar also made a request to be allowed to arrange a personal representation in front of the AIFF in order to plead his case. 

Ali also took to Instagram in hopes of making people aware and generating support for his case.

Watch Ali's appeal to the public.

Alternate career for Ali

The club and the AIFF have said they will try to provide him with an alternate career in football.

AIFF’s General Secretary, Kushal Das states that “We are happy to look into alternative career options for Anwar. He could be involved with talent identification for youth development. We will also help fast track his coaching licenses. We will find the best option for him.”

The AIFF are now waiting to hear from Ali, who made a request for a personal meeting. He failed to attend the first hearing as it came at a very short notice to him.

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