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FIFA bans AIFF: Who is responsible for this colossal mess in Indian football? What next?

In a massive setback for the country, world football governing body FIFA on Tuesday suspended India for "undue influence from third parties" and said the U-17 Women's World Cup "cannot currently be held in India as planned."

FIFA bans AIFF: Who is responsible for this colossal mess in Indian football? What next? snt
New Delhi, First Published Aug 16, 2022, 3:29 PM IST

In a massive jolt for Indian football, the world governing body FIFA on Tuesday suspended the country for 'undue influence from third parties and stated it could not host the U-17 Women's World Cup as planned. The FIFA tournament was scheduled from October 11 to 30.

This is the first time the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was slapped a ban by FIFA in its 85 years of history, with the apex body saying there have been 'flagrant violations of the FIFA Statutes'.

Also read: FIFA bans India, takes away rights to hold U-17 Women's WC; Here's why

How Indian football faced ultimate embarrassment, and who is to be blamed

The saga began when the AIFF could not organise elections to choose a new president within the allotted period due to a stalemate over the completion of its constitution. 

As a result, the Supreme Court terminated Praful Patel's term as the AIFF's president in May and appointed the three-member CoA, made up of the former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, former Supreme Court judge Anil Dave, and former India football captain Bhaskar Ganguly, to oversee the organisation's daily operations. 

The CoA also had to frame its constitution in line with the National Sports Code and model guidelines.

FIFA viewed this move as an outside intrusion that violated its rules and put India at risk of suspension, which eventually occurred on Monday. 

The world football governing body has never permitted government or judicial intervention in the internal affairs of any of its member associations. Some nations with situations resembling India it has established normalisation committees. 

Also read: 'Very unfortunate that FIFA has banned Indian football' - Bhaichung Bhutia

What did FIFA say in its statement on the ban

"The Bureau of the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to suspend the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes," FIFA said in a statement.

The Bureau of the FIFA Council said lifting the suspension will be subject to repealing the Committee of Administrators (CoA) 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 suspension will be lifted once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF's daily affairs," it added.

"The suspension means that the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2022, scheduled to take place in India on 11-30 October 2022, cannot currently be held in India as planned. FIFA is assessing the next steps with regard to the tournament and will refer the matter to the Bureau of the Council if and when necessary," it concluded.

Also read: Supreme Court to hear AIFF case on August 17 as Centre seeks urgent hearing post FIFA ban

What happens next?

FIFA has kept a window open for India, saying it is in touch with the sports ministry on the issue. The AIFF constitution must be rewritten in compliance with FIFA and AFC regulations and ratified by the AIFF general assembly without intervention from a third party before the suspension can be lifted, the FIFA Council Bureau determined.

The FIFA "concurrently" wants an "independent electoral committee to be elected by the AIFF general assembly to run the elections of a new executive committee". It also said the AIFF must "carry out the upcoming electoral process as per the statutory requirements and to hold its elections based on the pre-existing membership of the AIFF (i.e. state associations only).

As per the FIFA move and with the AIFF losing all membership rights until further notice, the Indian clubs and representatives (players, referees, officials) are no longer entitled to participate in international suspension until the suspension is lifted.

Also read: CoA had agreed to conduct AIFF elections without 'eminent players' - Sources

Meanwhile, hours before the FIFA suspension, the CoA had reportedly consented to hold the AIFF elections without granting vote rights to "eminent" players as requested by the international governing body.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, the SC-appointed CoA is said to have agreed to 'almost all' of FIFA's requests about the elections and the new constitution, so the U-17 Women's World Cup may still take place in India.

According to information obtained, the CoA was not anticipating the FIFA ban at this time because it had promised to comply with the demands of the international governing body. 

The nation's football community is currently anticipating the conclusion of the Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday.

According to reports, the CoA, FIFA, and the sports ministry accepted a proposal to hold the AIFF elections with the 36 state association delegates serving as the electoral college.

The list of 36 'eminent' players whose names have already been published by the election's returning officer includes the likes of Shabbir Ali, Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Prasanta Banerjee, IM Vijayan and Bhaichung Bhutia. 

However, five eminent players- three male and two female- can become members of the proposed 22-member executive committee with voting rights. There will be a maximum of one man and one woman from any state.

"Present election of the EC may be conducted with the electoral college consisting of 36 state representatives," states one of the main points in the proposal, which is said to have been agreed upon by the FIFA, CoA and the sports ministry.

"The EC may consist of 22 members, including five eminent players. The 17 members (inclusive of a president, a secretary general, a treasurer, one vice president, one joint secretary) will be elected by the above electoral college."

The CoA had drafted a constitution for the AIFF that called for a 12-member executive committee made up of a president, a treasurer, five eminent players, and five other players from the states, as well as 36 eminent players and an equal number of state association representatives in the electoral college.
The plan presented by the three parties also said that the vice president would assume the duties of acting president in the event that the president was temporarily or permanently unable to carry out his or her official duties. 

The AIFF had five vice presidents during the previous administration of departed president Praful Patel, one from each zone, with one of them serving as senior vice president. 

Additionally, it was proposed to make the general secretary an elected member (office bearer) of the executive committee and to hire a CEO (not an office bearer) as a paid employee of the AIFF.

(With inputs from PTI)

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