Football in Bangladesh
Compared to the past, the standard of Bangladeshi football has degraded due to mismanagement, lack of support and poor investment. An interest in cricket resulting from the nation’s success in Test Cricket and participation in the Cricket World Cup overshadowed the past fame in the nation’s football. But however this did not affect football’s popularity. More football tournaments are organized in and outside Dhaka than of any other sports and football fever grips the nation during every FIFA World Cup. Federation officials and experts are still hopeful about the development of football in the country in the next ten years despite financial obstacles and lack of professionalism.
History tells us why football is still popular in the country. During the liberation war in 1971, football was the way to create international awareness about the war of independence. The Swadhin Bangla Football Team was established which played 16 matches in India and was officially received by the BFF in 2009.
The period before the 1990s saw national soccer fever in league football, specifically in the Dhaka League, which possessed club teams which were famous both at home and abroad. League football was popular even before independence, from the 1940s to 1960s under Pakistan. There were quite a number of premier football clubs in Dhaka, in the 1940s, most prominent among them were Dhaka Wanderers, Victoria SC, Wari Club, Mohammedan SC, EP Gymkhana, Railways, and Fire service. A match between East Pakistan Governors XI vs. West Bengal XI was held at Dhaka in the late forties. The first Dhaka League was won by Bangladeshi Victoria SC in 1948, three years prior to the Mother Language Movement while still under Pakistani rule. Dhaka League was very prestigious in the South-Asia and Asia itself. Many of Dhaka league teams went on to become among the most successful teams in the Asian continent (mostly between the 1970s to the early 1990s). The league also went as far as having players from top European teams. Football was played both in the domestic leagues and abroad. Bangladeshi clubs such as BKSP and Bangladesh Red played with success in international football tournaments like Aga Khan Gold Cup, President Gold Cup, Dana Cup and Gothia Cup. BKSP won the later two in 1990 while Bangladesh Red were runners-up in the first President Gold Cup in 1981 and won it in 1989. Except that, Bangladeshi clubs bagged three more titles abroad: Quaid-E-Azam Trophy of Pakistan in 1985, Four-nation invitational tournament of Myanmar in 1995 and Jigme Dorji Wangchuk Memorial Football of Bhutan in 2003.
After the establishment of BFF in 1972, the national team played their first international match against Thailand in the 1973 Merdeka tournament in Malaysia. After its membership with FIFA in 1974 and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the national team participated in the 1980 AFC Asian Cup and the 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. But the nation’s best results came at South Asian level where it won the SAFF Championship once and were gold medalists in South Asian Games twice.
The last ten years saw a series of managerial changes in the national team and many famous coaches were appointed like the Austrian György Kottán and German Otto Pfister, who coached Côte d'Ivoire to their first FIFA World Cup finals in 2006. However, in 2006, Bangladesh reached the quarterfinals of the AFC Challenge Cup under Argentine coach Andres Cruciani and in 2010, Bangladesh won the 11th South Asian Games on home soil under the Serbian Zoran Đorđević, who left in February the same year.
6 September 2011 was the most unforgettable moment of Bangladeshi football. Lionel Messi and his national team Argentina, played a friendly match against Nigeria at Bangabandhu National Stadium where Messi and his team mates impressed Bangladeshi football lovers with their sensational playing. Bangladeshi footballers were privileged to see the match and practice with the football gladiators. Bangladeshi footballers were encouraged and motivated by Argentine footballers. They believe Bangladesh football can go far ahead if world class facilities are brought into the footballing system.
On 4 April, Bangladeshi football legend Kazi Salauddin was re-elected as the president of Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF).He has been enlightening Bangladesh football since he took the charge of the BFF board. He took the first initiative of Bangladesh Super League known as "Koti Takar League". His initiations keep attracting international players as well as highly rated international coaches.He promised, he'll take Bangladesh Football long way.
The Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) was established on 15 July 1972 as the governing body, and has been a member of the FIFA since 1974 and AFC in 1973. The federation is responsible for organising all club championships and the professional league. It is currently working with AFC’s Vision Asia programme to improve the domestic football infrastructure.
The BFF is presided by Kazi Salahuddin since April 2008.
Clubs, leagues and championships
Successful ones among earlier clubs were BKSP and Dhaka Wanderers, Victoria SC, Wari Club, East Pakistan Gymkhana and Azad SC. Among a total of 4,100 clubs, the most renowned clubs today are namely Abahani Limited, Mohammedan SC, Muktijoddha SKS, Brothers Union, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and Sheikh Russel KC.
- Bangladesh Premier League, formerly known as B.League, is the national pro league and the top-tier league in Bangladeshi football. Before that, the Dhaka League was the most renowned and top-tier football league.
- Bangladesh Championship League is the second-tier league in Bangladesh.
- National Football Championship (Bangladesh) was the semi-pro football league replaced by the pro league in 2007 as the top-tier league.
- Federation Cup is the top national cup competition.
- Super Cup is the highest budgeted football tournament organised by BFF.
Other regional leagues include the Dhaka League, Chittagong League, Rajshahi League, Cox's Bazar League and the Comilla League.
- SAFF Championship
- AFC Challenge Cup
- South Asian Games
- AFC President's Cup (club)
- 2015 Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup (club)
- Kazi Salahuddin
- Sheikh Aslam
- Sayeed Hassan Kanan
- Syed Abdus Samad
- Kaiser Hamid
- Md. Monwar Hossen
- Aminul Hoque
- Rajani Kanta Barman
National team achievements
In a country whose population is predominantly Muslim, there is some resistance towards women’s football. The women’s game has struggled to gain a foothold in Bangladesh in the past and many tournaments dedicated to women have failed. Women's football finally saw light in Bangladesh when the first ever women's football tournament was staged under the Vision Asia programme in November 2007. Eight teams especially from different districts all over the country took part in the tournament and made it a success amidst security threats.
In October 2008, first women's school football tournament was held under the Vision Bangladesh programme with BFF hopeful of continuing and developing the women's game in the country.
Women's football was included in the 2010 South Asian Games hosted in Dhaka, while the first Women's SAFF Championship is to be held in December in the country. Bangladesh had their first women's national team in the AFC U-19 Women's Championship qualifiers with India, Jordan and Iran in their group.
Notable players in foreign leagues
- Anwar Uddin (Eastbourne Borough) is the first player of South Asian descent to play in the English Premier League.
- Shahed Ahmed (Sporting Bengal United)
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