New Delhi: The Indian football team coach Igor Stimac has been accused of using astrology to select players for the Asian Cup qualifiers last year. According to a report by Indian Express, Stimac consulted a Delhi-NCR-based astrologer, Bhupesh Sharma, before every match and shared the names of the probable players, injury updates, and strategy details with him.
The report claims that Stimac sent a list of 11 players to Sharma 48 hours before the match against Afghanistan on June 11, 2022, and asked for his advice based on the movement of planets and stars. Sharma replied with his comments against each player’s name, suggesting who should play and who should not. Two prominent players who were marked as having bad stars were dropped from the team.
The report also alleges that Stimac and Sharma exchanged around 100 messages between May and June 2022, covering four matches that India played during that period. These include a friendly match against Jordan and three Asian Cup qualifier matches against Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) paid Rs 15 lakh to Sharma for his services, according to the report. The then AIFF general secretary Kushal Das admitted that he had introduced Stimac to Sharma in May 2022, as he was worried about India’s chances of qualifying for the Asian Cup. He said that Sharma had worked for many telecom companies and Bollywood celebrities and claimed that astrology could help in motivating people to make the right decisions.
The report raises serious questions about the integrity and professionalism of the Indian football team coach and the AIFF. It also exposes the risk of leaking confidential team information to outsiders who could misuse it for personal or commercial gains.