Shillong, Aug 16: Unwelcome news greeted Indian football fans this morning with the announcement that FIFA had banned the All India Football Federation with immediate effect.
The action was taken considering the “third-party influence” that the AIFF has been subjected to. After the AIFF stalled its own elections, the Supreme Court put it under a Committee of Administrators that will run the election process and clear the jam in the formulation of an AIFF constitution that is meant to follow the provisions of the National Sports Code.
FIFA has not been happy that the AIFF electoral college includes 36 retired international footballers, which is equal to the number of representatives of the state associations. The world governing body would have, reportedly, been willing to accept individual co-opted members of 25% of the total.
The electoral college is meant to be finalised today; the Returning Officer had published a provisional list on Sunday, with time until today morning to challenge any disqualifications. The Meghalaya Football Association had put forward its President Larsing Ming Sawyan as its representative on the electoral college but this was rejected on Sunday as he was “deemed disqualified as per provision of the draft constitution” as he has already served three terms as AIFF Vice-President and the constitution, as per the Sports Code, place an upper limit of 12 years for anyone in the executive committee.
The ban for “flagrant violations” of the FIFA statute will be in place until the AIFF regains “full control of its affairs”.
In the meantime, it will have extremely negative effects on Indian football.
Gone is the Women’s U-17 World Cup, scheduled for October, which will not be held in India and no Indian team can participate in international competitions or friendlies, such as those scheduled against Singapore and Vietnam.
ATK Mohun Bagan’s campaign in the inter-zonal semifinals of the AFC Cup in September is also gone and Gokulam Kerala won’t be able to represent India at next week’s Asian Women’s Club Championships.
Local football competitions, however, can still go ahead.