Indian rifle shooters Gagan Narang and Sanjeev Rajput failed to qualify for the London Olympics finals of the men’s 50m rifle three positions at the Royal Artillery Barracks on Monday. Narang, Olympic bronze medallist in 10m air rifle, finished 20th with a score of 1,164 while Rajput ended at 26th with 1,161.Narang shot 398 in prone, 377 standing and 389 while kneeling. Rajput scored 395 in prone, 378 in standing and 388 while kneeling.Italy’s Niccolo Campriani created an Olympic record scoring a total of 1,180 with an average of 9.833.This also ends Narang’s campaign at the Games. He participated in two other events: the 10m air rifle event, where he won the bronze, and the 50m rifle prone.
Entry barrier: No good player wants to join the club due to salary arrearsIt was Kerala football’s saddest Vishu, the harvest festival when gifts are exchanged.This year, the state’s football fans were gifted heartbreak instead. India’s first professional football club and the pride of Kerala football, FC Kochin (FCK), was,Entry barrier: No good player wants to join the club due to salary arrearsIt was Kerala football’s saddest Vishu, the harvest festival when gifts are exchanged.This year, the state’s football fans were gifted heartbreak instead. India’s first professional football club and the pride of Kerala football, FC Kochin (FCK), was dumped from the National Football League’s (NFL) first division after being thrashed 5-0 by lowly Tolly-gunge Agragami of Kolkata on home ground at Kochi.The team left with faces covered as fans wept and booed. The freefall has taken five years. Now club president and founder P.V. Paul is even contemplating disbanding the club. “It’s not worthwhile fighting in the second division,” he says.The club’s rise and decline have been swift: in the first six months of its creation in 1997, it won the country’s oldest football championship, the Durand Cup, by beating the country’s oldest club, Mohun Bagan, and also reached the finals of three major tournaments. When the first NFL was formed, FCK finished fourth.Extravagance and poor management have been the main reasons for the club’s rapid downfall.Now, the club has hit rock-bottom. Its best players have moved to other clubs, 11 top players leaving during the league season itself.The paucity of talent has left the club’s Czech coach Karel Stromsik lamenting, “With this kind of game and players even Alex Ferguson (famed manager of Manchester United) won’t be able to save the club.”Besides, FCK is said to have run up a loss of Rs 2.5 crore and its coffers are empty. Five players refused to play an NFL game protesting against the non-payment of dues and some players have allegedly not been paid salaries since 2000.Paul, however, alleges a conspiracy: the Kolkata clubs, bent on destroying the new entrant, had lobbied in the All India Football Federation against FCK. A Central Excise Department official, Paul, along with two NRI friends, claims to have invested Rs 2.5 crore in the club.advertisementThe best Indian players and some from abroad were lured with salaries double or three times those of other clubs. They were provided flats and air travel. The first year’s income reportedly crossed Rs 1 crore from sponsorships, and gate collections.The first signs of trouble appeared when club manager and former India player O. Chandrasekharan resigned. “The FCK has always been run unprofessionally and its expenses were difficult to sustain. There was no attempt to build a team,” he says. Soon, all seven members on the FCK board of directors quit following their differences with Paul and the other two trustees.Despite these early warnings the sponsorships continued to rise from Rs 35 lakh in the first year to Rs 65 lakh in the second. When the club slipped to sixth position in the 1999-2000 NFL, the sponsorship fell to Rs 15 lakh, but fourth place in 2000-1 brought back a Rs 28 lakh sponsorship from the UB Group.Time, however, was running out as the player exodus had already begun. Once the club ran up arrears on salaries, the bad news spread.Today, no good player wants to join the club. “Though I wouldn’t accuse Paul of misappropriating funds, bad management and extravagance were evident,” says Thomas Kannukkaadan, NRI and club co-founder.The fall of FC Kochin is a body blow to those who believed the club could provide a model for the eventual professionalisation and progress of Indian football.