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FIFA suspends All India Football Federation; U-17 Women's World Cup in doubt

Bengaluru, August 16: Football's global governing body -- FIFA -- has suspended All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) due to undue influence from third parties, the sport's governing body said.

The suspension of the AIFF threatens the country's hosting of the Under-17 FIFA Women's World Cup scheduled to be held from October 11 to 30.

FIFA said the suspension was effective immediately and that the transgression constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes.

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once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF executive committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF's daily affairs," FIFA said.

The Under-17 Women's World Cup cannot currently be held in India as planned, FIFA said.

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.

It is worth recalling that the Apex Court of the country -- Supreme Court -- had on August 3 directed the executive committee of the AIFF to expeditiously hold elections as per the schedule proposed by the Committee of Administrators (CoA), which is currently running the affairs of the national federation.

Winds of change

Winds of change

Winds of change had swept Indian football administration after AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das resigned from his post in June, citing health grounds, ending his 12-year tenure which was often marred with controversies.

Das' tenure as AIFF General Secretary roughly coincides with that Praful Patel's presidency. Patel completed his three terms and 12 years as AIFF president in December 2020, the maximum permitted to a national sports federation (NSF) chief under the Sports Code.

Integrity commission

Integrity commission

The AIFF, however, did not hold the elections, citing a pending petition in the Supreme Court regarding its constitution. The Comptroller and Auditor General recently ordered audit of accounts of the AIFF for the period coinciding with Patel's tenure.

Das was also accused of alleged molestation of employees at workplace though the AIFF's integrity officer has given him a clean chit.

CoA framework

CoA framework

The three-member CoA is headed by retired SC judge Anil R Dave and has former Chief Election Commissioner Dr SY Qureshi and ex-Indian football captain Bhaskar Ganguly as its other members.

The CoA also had to frame its constitution in line with the National Sports Code and model guidelines. The FIFA has never allowed third party interference in the affairs of its member units whether by the court or the government.

Individual Membership

Individual Membership

The sports ministry had filed an application in the Supreme Court, seeking a modification to its August 5 order that allowed 36 eminent players to vote in the AIFF elections on the grounds that the world body was not in favour of 'individual membership' in the AIFF.

According to sources, FIFA re-iterated its stand to the sports ministry and issued the statement to ban India after that (around 10pm Swiss local time; wee hours on Tuesday in India). The Supreme Court on August 3 directed the executive committee of AIFF) to expeditiously hold elections as per the schedule proposed by the CoA.

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Story first published: Tuesday, August 16, 2022, 7:18 [IST]
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