Football’s international governing body FIFA on Tuesday released a short statement announcing a major decision regarding the sport in India. The all-powerful FIFA said it has ‘unanimously decided to suspend AIFF with immediate effect’ and a major repercussion of that would be India losing the hosting rights for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 set to be held in less than a couple of months from now.
Now, the big question: Why led FIFA resort to such a drastic step less than two months away from a showpiece event? News18 gives you a lowdown of the entire saga and what’s in store for the future.
The Administrative Mess
In December 2020, former AIFF president Praful Patel’s third stint in the office came to an end. As per the Sports Code, a federation chief cannot continue more that 12 years in office. However, Patel, citing a pending case in Supreme Court since 2017, continued to extend his terms without holding elections till the matter of a new AIFF constitution was settled in the Apex Court.
The SC Intervention
Following this, several officials from various state units along with former Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey approached the SC to intervene into the matter.
COA to Run AIFF
On May 18, SC passed a verdict forcing Patel and his executive committee to quit while appointing a three-member Committee of Administrators to run the daily affairs of AIFF. It comprised top court judge AR Dave, former CEC SY Quraishi and ex-Indian football team captain Bhaskar Ganguly.
FIFA-AFC Team Meets COA
In June, a FIFA-AFC team visited India to held talks regarding the mess and eventually set a deadline to get a constitution approved by July 31 and conduct elections by September 15.
Discriminatory And Illogical Clauses
COA submitted a final draft of the constitution to the SC on July 16 but it was poorly received by state units of AIFF. They were unhappy over several provisions and a seven-member panel representing them also wrote to FIFA regarding several clauses being discriminatory and illogical.
The Contentious Clauses
The most prominent of them all was the composition of AIFF executive committee that now should be made up of 50 per cent of ’eminent players’ as per the new constitution. This is against FIFA statutes.
In addition, COA also made changes to the texts on India’s top football league and how its relegation/promotion will work. It also stated that AIFF will run the top league. This could have led to a battle between I-League and Indian Super League to claim the top status something which was already settled in 2018.
Why The Ban?
FIFA said it’s banning AIFF “due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of” its statutes.
An immediate consequence is that India have, as of now, lost the right to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 which was to be held between October 11-30 and for which the tickets recently went under sale.
In the scenario of the event being shifted out of he country, India’s participation will be under a serious threat since they only qualified as the host nation.
There’s a possibility of India’s senior team being banned from participating in international events, clubs may also be barred from continental tournaments. Additionally, the clubs may also not be able to sign any more foreign players.
A Glimmer of Hope
However, FIFA has also stated that 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.
What raises hopes further is that fact that FIFA is in touch with the Indian government for a quick resolution.
“FIFA is in constant constructive contact with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India and is hopeful that a positive outcome to the case may still be achieved,” FIFA said.