AIFF, the governing body for Indian football, has now 38 days to sort out the structural mess or they risk facing a ban from the international football. FIFA has issued an ultimatum to AIFF to adopt the new constitution by July 31, and finalise the new president latest by September 15. The failure to do so will result in a temporary ban of India from world football.
These deadlines have been decided by a seven-member joint delegation from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), after a series of meeting with Supreme Court-appointed CoA and numerous state associations.
“The meetings concluded that the next steps should be the ratification of the AIFF Statutes in line with the FIFA/AFC principles of good governance and the holding of an Electoral Congress to choose the next AIFF leadership. This would be based on a timeline agreed by AIFF stakeholders,” read the statement from AIFF.
Supreme Court had to step in after AIFF president Praful Patel refused to step down, despite his third and final term coming to an end back in December 2020. Patel was thrown out of the organisation by the court, and they also appointed a three-member committee, headed by Justice (retd) AR Dave, to oversee the operation of the Indian football body.
But FIFA doesn’t allow third-party interference. The accredited association has to work as an autonomous body, without any outside intervention. Which is why they sent a FIFA-AFC delegation before deciding on the future of Indian football. Contrary to their expectations, they found that state associations are content with the functioning of the CoA, and thus they gave them 38 days to elect their new president.
But this is not the only problem bugging Indian football. Recently, the CoA exposed a series of financial misdealings by AIFF members, the chief among them was a payment of Rs 16 lakh handed to an astrology company ahead of the AFC Asian Qualifiers.
For the first time in its history, India qualified for the AFC Asian Qualifiers final on two successive occasions. Sunil Chhetri continued his goal-scoring spree, finding the back of the net four times as India remained unbeaten in the league. Chhetri, 38, has expressed concern over the current situation, saying that the FIFA ban will be “catastrophic” for Indian football.
“I hope everything will come out as good for the sport and the country does not get a ban. The ban will be catastrophic not just for the whole country but for me, because I’m 37. You never know when there’s the last game for you,” said Chhetri.
Featured Image Credit: AIFF/Twitter