Blow for Anwar Ali as Mohammedan Sporting say player no longer contracted to club

Andrew Carleton of the US battles with India's Anwar Ali during their Group A match. Jan Kruger - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Former U-17 World Cup player Anwar Ali's career with Mohammedan Sporting appears to be over with the club on Friday issuing a statement that they had already issued a release on September 15, terminating his contract with the club. On August 17, Ali had signed a contract with the club, and - in his mind, at least - was set to represent the Kolkata outfit till the end of the 2020-21 season in the I-League second division.

Ironically, Sporting's clarification came on the day the Delhi High Court, on a petition filed by Ali, allowed the player to rejoin the Sporting team, if the club agreed. That scenario now seems unlikely [Ali had approached the court seeking a stay on the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) order directing the club to stop him from training]. The court has also directed Ali to appear before the AIFF's medical committee within the next 10 days and testify to his health and condition.

"We want to clear all the confusion regarding .. Anwar Ali. We got the mentioned letter from the AIFF on 12th September and I signed the release letter on 15th. But he requested us to allow him to stay with the team till the last day of the residential camp in Kalyani. ... We neither had officially registered him as a Mohammedan Sporting player nor we allowed him to train with the squad after we got the instructions from the AIFF. We also signed ... Asheer Akhtar as an immediate replacement for Anwar, knowing he wouldn't be part of our plans. We want to make it clear that whatever Anwar is saying against the parent body of Indian football is not our responsibility and we will always respect the decision and protocols of the AIFF," read Mohammedan's statement.

It is learned that Ali is no longer with the Mohammedan Sporting camp, having been told in the middle of a team meeting on Monday to leave the camp and return home to Punjab.

The AIFF letter the Sporting statement refers to was one sent on September 7, directing the club not to allow Ali to train with the team. The 20-year-old's career had been in a state of limbo ever since he was diagnosed in 2019 with a rare heart condition known as apical hypercardio myopathy (HCM). While the condition can be fatal in certain circumstances, the AIFF had yet to decide whether Ali could play professionally again, referring the case to their medical committee. A final decision was to be made based on the committee's recommendation. However, Ali had taken the AIFF to court over his right to play, filing a petition on Monday challenging the directive barring him from practicing with Mohammedan Sporting.

Sporting's statement thus comes as a blow to the former U-17 World Cup star, who had won a measure of relief from the Delhi HC.