The Indian men's and women's football teams are set to participate at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China after the Sports Ministry decided to relax the existing selection criteria.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had earlier refused to clear the Indian football teams for the Asian Games on the ground that they were not ranked in the top-8 in Asia.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) then made an appeal to the Sports Ministry to allow the men's and women's teams to take part in the prestigious event with India's men's football team coach, Igor Stimac, also seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention.
"Good news for Indian football lovers! Our national football teams, both Men's and Women's, are set to participate in the upcoming Asian Games," Sports Minister Anurag Thakur tweeted on Wednesday.
"The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, has decided to relax the rules to facilitate participation of both the teams, which were not qualifying as per the existing criterion.
"Keeping in mind their latest performances in the recent times, the Ministry decided to grant the relaxation. I am sure they will put their best foot forward in the Asian Games and make our country proud," he added.
According to the ministry's selection criteria for team events, only sides ranking in the top eight of the continental rankings of their respective sports will be allowed to travel for the Asiad.
The Indian men's team is ranked 18th in Asia, while the women's side is ranked 11th.
The Huangzhou Asian Games is scheduled to take place from September 23 to October 8 in China.