The South Asian Football Federation General Secretary Anwarul Huq Helal said that they decided to include one or two nations from outside the South Asian region to compete in the upcoming 14th SAFF Championship 2023.
“We decided to invite one or two nations from outside this region to play in the upcoming edition of SAFF. All India Football Federation brought up this proposal in today’s (Friday) meeting and all members agreed,” Helal told The Daily Sun after the meeting on Friday.
The 14th SAFF will be held from June 21 to July 3 at a centralised venue in Bengaluru, India with the participation of six teams including Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan and the hosts India so far.
AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey earlier said in a local media in India that he would propose the SAFF stakeholders in inviting a couple of higher-ranked teams to raise the standard of this competition.
The AIFF President also stated that the inclusion of the higher-ranked nations would help the Indian football team to improve their levels as the tournament usually includes weaker sides.
“We want to include one or two teams from outside this region. Having higher-ranked teams in the tournament will raise the standard of Indian football,” said Chaubey.
About Pakistan’s participation in SAFF, Chaubey said that they won’t mix politics and sports but they would abide by the decision of the Ministry of External Affairs.