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

The AIFF has been banned by FIFA, while India has been stripped of the hosting rights for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. Meanwhile, Bhaichung Bhutia has labelled the decision as 'unfortunate'.

Very unfortunate that FIFA has banned Indian football AIFF- Bhaichung Bhutia-ayh
Tinkitam, First Published Aug 16, 2022, 12:00 PM IST

On Tuesday, former Indian football skipper Bhaichung Bhutia termed the International Federation of Association Football's (FIFA's) decision to ban Indian football "very harsh", but also sees an opportunity to get the sport in the country in order. India was suspended by the world governing body FIFA for "undue influence from third parties". The development has jeopardised the nation's prospects of hosting the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, which was scheduled to run from October 11-30.

"Very unfortunate that FIFA has banned Indian football, and at the same time, I feel it's a very harsh decision of FIFA to ban Indian football. But, at the same time, I feel it's a great opportunity to get our system right. All the stakeholders - the federation and the state associations - must come together and get the system right. Everybody works for the betterment of Indian football," Butia told PTI.

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FIFA stated that the suspension was effective instantly and that the misconduct constitutes a severe violation of the FIFA Statutes. It is the first time FIFA has banned the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in its 85-year history. The AIFF was in trouble after former president Praful Patel stayed in office beyond his term. At the same time, the Supreme Court ruled it invalid and ousted him from his post, besides placing the AIFF under a Committee of Administrators (CoA).

A team of FIFA-AFC visited the nation between June 21 to 23, following which the world body set strict deadlines to approve the new constitution by July 31, besides holding elections by September 15. Former Indian star footballer Shabbir Ali termed the decision seriously painful and a gigantic setback for Indian football.

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"Whatever happened is extremely unfortunate and a setback for Indian football. That said, I am hopeful that the suspension will be lifted sooner than later once the elections are held, which FIFA has categorically mentioned. The U-17 Women's World Cup should be held in India, and I am optimistic that things will fall in place and India won't be robbed of the showpiece event," Shabbir quoted.

FIFA, however, has not shut down all options for India, affirming that it is in talks with the sports ministry and is hopeful of a positive outcome as far as the U-17 Women's showpiece event is concerned. Also, former Indian Mehtab Hossain accused the ones running the sport in the country of the setback.

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"Both the former officials and the CoA should be blamed squarely for this fiasco. When FIFA instructed the officials to conduct an election as soon as possible and put the house in order, what were we waiting for? We took our own sweet time, and now, we have to pay the ultimate price. Neither the former bosses nor anyone from the CoA will suffer now. The players and fans will be dealt with a severe blow. It's a huge blow for Indian football," wondered Hossain.

(With inputs from PTI)

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