CoA had agreed to conduct AIFF elections without 'eminent players' - Sources
AIFF has received a ban from FIFA due to third-party governance. Despite a FIFA warning, AIFF delayed its elections, while CoA had agreed to conduct the elections without 'eminent players', sources have indicated.
Hours before the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) ban, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) that has been running football in India had agreed to hold All India Football Federation's (AIFF's) elections without voting rights for 'eminent' players. FIFA itself issued the directive regarding the same. However, in a big knock for the nation, FIFA suspended the AIFF on Tuesday for "undue influence from third parties" and informed that the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup "cannot currently be held in India as planned." The country is slated to host the global event from October 11-30.
Sources privy to the developments said that the ban could be short as the Supreme Court-appointed CoA had agreed to "almost all" of the demands presented by FIFA regarding the elections and the new constitution. Hence, India could still host the U-17 Women's World Cup.
"The feeling in official circles is that the ban could be short, and elections can go ahead not on August 28 but before September 15 [FIFA's deadline]. The CoA has agreed to it as per FIFA's wishes. In this scenario, the FIFA U-17 women's World Cup can also be saved," a top source was quoted as saying by PTI.
It was learnt that the CoA did not expect the FIFA ban at this stage, agreeing to fulfil the world governing body's conditions. The country's football fraternity now awaits the Supreme Court's hearing outcome, which will be held on Wednesday. The Union government, on July 28, gave its approval to the signing of guarantees for hosting the women's showpiece.
Sources said that the CoA, the FIFA and the sports ministry had agreed with the proposal to go ahead with the AIFF elections. At the same time, the 36 state association representatives would form the electoral college. The list of 36 'eminent' players, whose names had already been published by the election's returning officer, included the likes of Shabbir Ali, Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Prasanta Banerjee, IM Vijayan and Bhaichung Bhutia.
However, five eminent players - three male and two female - could become members of the proposed 22-member executive committee and possess voting rights. There will be a maximum of one man and one woman from a state. "Present election of the EC may be conducted with the electoral college consisting of 36 state representatives. The EC may consist of 22 members, including five eminent players. The 17 members [including a president, a secretary general, a treasurer, a vice president, a joint secretary] will be elected by the above electoral college," read in the proposal, which has reportedly been agreed upon by FIFA, CoA and India's sports ministry.
AIFF's draft constitution prepared by the CoA provided 36 eminent players, an equal number of state association spokespeople in the electoral college, and a 12-member executive committee consisting of a president, a treasurer, five distinguished players, and five others from the states.
The proposal debated by the three parties also declared that if the president is permanently or temporarily stopped from conducting his\her official role, the vice president will accept the function as an acting president. In the old dispensation under ousted president Praful Patel, the AIFF had five vice-presidents - one from each zone - with a designated senior vice-president.
It was also offered to appoint a CEO (not office bearer) as AIFF's salaried employee, with the general secretary becoming an elected executive committee member (office bearer). FIFA has never allowed third-party interference in the matters of its member units, whether by court or government. It has set up normalisation panels in various nations in similar cases.
The poll process commenced on August 13, as SC approved the timeline designed by the CoA. The CoA has appointed a returning officer and published the electoral college for the elections. The nomination filing is to start on Wednesday.
(With inputs from PTI)