FIFA bans AIFF: CoA left surprised at the FIFA decision
The AIFF is now serving a ban from FIFA. While the latter had already warned about third-party governance, the former made little progress on the front. Meanwhile, the CoA has been left surprised at the FIFA decision.
The Committee of Administrators (CoA) on Tuesday voiced that it was "surprised" at the International Federation of Association Football's (FIFA's) "unfortunate" decision to ban the All India Football Federation AIFF) despite it closing in on an agreement concerning the elections and structure of the constitution. In a massive setback for the nation, the world football governing body suspended India for "undue influence from third parties". It also said that the U-17 Women's World Cup "cannot currently be held in India as planned".
"The CoA is surprised that the FIFA decision has come when extensive discussions were going on for the past few days between all stakeholders, including FIFA-AFC, AIFF, CoA, and the Sports Ministry as per the Order of the Supreme Court. While the CoA was committed to implementing the Hon'ble Supreme Court's Order regarding the elections of the AIFF, passed on August 3, 2022, it was also in constant dialogue with all stakeholders," explained the COA in a statement.
"In the discussions held among the FIFA-AFC, AIFF, CoA, and the Sports Ministry in the past few days, it was suggested that the present elections of the AIFF Executive Committee may be conducted with the Electoral College consisting of 36 state representatives," added CoA's statement.
India is slated to host the women's age-group FIFA competition between October 11 and 30. It is the first time FIFA has banned the AIFF in its 85-year existence. The CoA further said in its statement, "FIFA also suggested through the Sports Ministry that the EC may consist of 23 members, including six eminent players."
"The 17 members [including the President, a Secretary General, a Treasurer, a Vice President, and a Joint Secretary] will be elected by the above electoral college. Four of the six eminent players will be men and two women. The eminent players may be nominated [co-opted] in the EC and shall have the voting rights, thus making it above 25 per cent of the EC," CoA counted.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of the FIFA Council said lifting the suspension will be subject to repealing the CoA's mandate in full. In a statement, FIFA also said it wants the AIFF administration to "be fully in-charge of the AIFF's daily affairs". The CoA said it made all arrangements, as per the Order of the Supreme Court, to execute the AIFF elections under an independent panel that consists of eminent and highly reputed election officers.
"This too is in line with the FIFA letter dated August 15, 2022, which says: 'Concurrently, an independent electoral committee to be elected by the AIFF general assembly to run the elections of a new executive committee'. In light of the above, the CoA is surprised by the world body's decision to slap the suspension on Indian football amid discussions among all stakeholders to find the best possible solution in the current situation," stated CoA.
"The fact that while the letter dated August 15, 2022, from FIFA stated that Indian football was being suspended from August 14, 2022, the discussions between the world body and all stakeholders in India were in full swing till late in the day on August 15, 2022," CoA further noted.
Likewise, the Centre has sought an urgent hearing in the Supreme Court on the matter involving the AIFF. CoA chairman Justice (retd.) Anil Dave said, "It is unfortunate to see such a directive by FIFA during a time when all efforts were being made to put Indian football back on the right track."
"That being said, we are constantly in talks with all the stakeholders, including FIFA, to find the correct solution to this situation and get the ball rolling once again. It is deplorable that the body, whose term had already been completed, had continued in an undemocratic and illegal manner for almost the last two years, and no action was taken," added Dave.
"But, when the Hon'ble Supreme Court passed an order to set things right to see that a democratically elected body takes charge, and when the CoA and the Sports Ministry were doing their best for the implementation of the Order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the order of the suspension was passed by FIFA," Dave expressed.
CoA member SY Qureshi was also disappointed at the FIFA judgment. "The recent suspension of the FIFA comes as a surprise to us all, especially since we had already found mutually accepted terms. Besides, democratic elections to elect a General Body were already on the way. However, we are hopeful that all problems will be solved to restore normalcy at the earliest," he sounded.
(With inputs from PTI)