“Full punch, we are going ahead,” said Priya PV, the Gokulam Kerala FC (GKFC) women’s team head coach, her enthusiasm coming through on the Whatsapp call from Tashkent. “We did gym work in the morning and have a video session planned for the evening.” Another day, another time this would have been normal service with a team readying for Asia’s apex women’s club competition. But with FIFA suspending the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on the day they reached Tashkent, it would take a lot to stay chirpy.
Along with Iran’s Bam Khatoon, GKFC were supposed to travel to Qarshi on Wednesday for the AFC Women’s Club Championship. The Iran team left as scheduled but Ashok Kumar, the GKFC CEO, who is with the team in Uzbekistan, said they weren’t provided flight tickets. “Maybe the UFA (Uzbekistan Football Association) is waiting. When we had enquired about the tickets from Tashkent to Qarshi before leaving India, they had said it would be handed over when we get here. Then the ban happened.”