Shillong, Aug 22: In a further twist to the saga of the All India Football Federation elections, the Supreme Court today ordered that the AIFF election be postponed by one week in order to bring about changes that will satisfy FIFA. The poll was meant to be held on 28th August.
Five candidates for President, six for Treasurer and 11 for Executive Committee members had been approved by the Returning Officer only yesterday, with Meghalaya Football Association representative Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s nomination to the EC disqualified on a technicality. Now, however, the RO has been told to re-fix the modalities of the election and if this requires that the nomination procedure is started anew, then that could open the way up for Lyngdoh to re-submit his nomination.
FIFA’s ban of the AIFF prevents Indian national teams and Indian clubs from participating in international competitions or matches and also strips the country of the hosting rights for the upcoming U-17 Women’s World Cup. The central government was desperate to have the ban revoked given the prestige of hosting such a major event and moved the Supreme Court to end the mandate of the Committee of Administrators, which the court had appointed to run the AIFF while the new constitution is prepared and elections held.
The central government virtually accepted all the demands made by FIFA and the apex court went along with these in the interest of having the ban overturned and the U-17 Women’s World Cup restored to India.
The main problem FIFA appeared to have was the CoA’s decision to give ’eminent players’ 50% representation on the AIFF electoral college, with the other 50% made up of the state football associations’ nominees, which is as per the provisions of the National Sports Development Code.
Bhutia’s lawyer argued that the eminent players’ representation in the AIFF should not be sacrificed in order to simply please FIFA as real change is required in Indian football’s governing body and the former national team player would never be able to get into the AIFF through a state association because of the politics involved.
However, the SC saw the ban and its consequences as the main issue and resolved that only the representatives of the 36 state associations will be eligible to vote in the election.
The CoA’s mandate will end and the day-to-day matters of the AIFF will be handled by its own administration led by the acting Secretary General.
The Executive Committee will now consist of 23 members, 17 of whom will be elected by the state association representatives and six of whom will be eminent players.
If all of this is still unsatisfactory to get the ban removed, the Supreme Court will consider the matter further.