New Delhi – The first Indian footballer picked to play in the coveted Brazilian league has been released by his club after spending just 21 minutes on the field, his manager said Wednesday.
Romeo Fernandes, 22, was taken on loan by Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense from FC Goa earlier this year following a training partnership agreement with the All India Football Federation.
In his first appearance for the club, the winger came on as a substitute in the 69th minute of the match in the Parana state league last month, but has since been benched.
Indian manager Rhys Mascarenhas confirmed Fernandes, whose six-month contract was due to expire in June with the provision of an extension till December, had returned home.
“It was Romeo’s decision to go to Brazil and entirely his decision to request the club to release him,” Mascarenhas told AFP.
“He did not even play a full half for the club, so there was no point in him hanging on.
“Romeo is on the rolls of FC Goa and was loaned to the Brazilian club. His immediate task will be to be picked for the Indian team.”
Atletico Paranaense was quoted in an Indian newspaper saying Fernando had been released to return to Goa with a view to playing for his country in World Cup qualifiers.
The Indian Express said Fernando’s move to Brazil had been seen by some “more as a marketing gimmick” than a genuine transfer.
India’s English coach Stephen Constantine, who left Fernandes out of the national team roster for the World Cup qualifiers, said last week “the door is open for everyone, but certainly not for a player who has gone to Brazil for somebody else’s benefits.”
India languishes at 147 in the world rankings but the cricket-mad country is due to host the under-17 football World Cup in 2017.