PANAJI: Anwar Ali’s battle to play competitive football despite a congenital heart condition that puts him at risk has now reached the doors of the Delhi high court.
In a first of its kind case in Indian sports, the 20-year-old footballer from Punjab dragged the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to court on Monday, insisting he has the right to play.
The petition will come up for hearing on Thursday.
Anwar has been diagnosed with a rare condition known as apical hypercardio myopathy (HCM). The diagnosis was made last year when he moved from Indian Arrows to Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL).
Since then, he has been out of football, and his attempt now to revive his career with Mohammedan Sporting in the Second Division I-League has been halted, pending a decision from AIFF’s medical committee led by Dr Vece Paes.
“The AIFF has no power to ban Anwar from playing, even if he has this condition. It is a matter between the club and the player. If the club knows my condition and wants me to play, and I want to play as well, who is the AIFF to decide that I cannot play?
“It may be ethically incorrect, but am I sure to die? No. What if I don’t die? Dipendu Biswas (with similar condition) and Anwar Ali (senior) had heart attack (on the field while training), but they were never investigated. They got treated and started playing again. If the AIFF feels they have the power (to ban), they need rules and regulations. We haven’t seen any,” the player’s lawyer, Amitabh Tewari, told TOI on Tuesday.
According to Tewari, the procedure followed by AIFF to keep Anwar away from football was totally arbitrary.
“The AIFF wrote to Mohammedan Sporting (on September 7) directing them not to allow Anwar to do any strenuous activity, including training with the first team. This letter is illegal and needs to be quashed. The AIFF does not have the power to do this.
“Some doctors may have said there is high or low risk, but irrespective of all that, there is no authoritative finding which has been given by any committee of the AIFF. The (medical) committee wrote to us (on September 26) saying no decision has been made,” said Tewari.
Pained at his exclusion, Anwar had written to the AIFF asking for a personal hearing before the medical committee could decide his fate. However, when provided with a chance, the India defender didn’t turn up, insisting the exercise was a sham after being given just a four-hour notice.
“Anwar has played for India U-17, India U-20 and was not tested. Had he not joined Mumbai (City) and instead joined any other club, nobody would have known about this condition. He is asymptomatic.
“It was only by chance that Mumbai found out. Otherwise, nobody would have come to know. If AIFF is so bothered, they should come up with a regulation saying every player should be tested for HCM or any other condition,” said Tewari.

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