FIFA bans AIFF | Why it happened and what it means for Indian football

Here is a timeline of events that led to FIFA banning AIFF, its consequences on Indian football, and more

Here is a timeline of events that led to FIFA banning AIFF, its consequences on Indian football, and more

There was palpable tension among top players as well as prominent ISL and I-League clubs after the FIFA ban on Indian football due to “third party interference”.

As per Article 13 of FIFA Statutes, the letter sent by the world football governing body general secretary Fatma Samoura states that “AIFF representatives and club teams are therefore no longer entitled to take part in the international competition until the suspension is lifted.

“This also means that neither the AIFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programmes, courses or training from FIFA and/or the AFC.”

While there is no imminent threat to the AFC Asian Cup participation by the senior men’s team in late 2023 or early 2024, some of the games slated for clubs and age-group national teams in the next few months could well be a tricky terrain.

The Hindualong with inputs from PTI, looks at some of the upcoming assignments under threat:

India men’s national team

The two friendly internationals against Vietnam (September 24) and Singapore (September 27) will stand cancelled if the ban is not revoked at the earliest.

Some years ago, the Indian men’s team used to struggle to get quality games on FIFA international friendly dates, and a lot of the blame lay at the doors of the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) administration.

Things did change slightly after Croatian head coach Igor Stimac pushed for more friendlies, something that his predecessors Stephen Constantine and Wim Koevermans lacked. The ban has brought the senior team back to square one.

Gokulam women wait anxiously in Uzbekistan

Indian Women’s League champions Gokulam Kerala were set to open their campaign in the AFC Women’s Club Championship against home side Sogdiana-W in Qarshi, Uzbekistan on August 23. File

Indian Women’s League champions Gokulam Kerala were set to open their campaign in the AFC Women’s Club Championship against home side Sogdiana-W in Qarshi, Uzbekistan on August 23. File
| Photo Credit: twitter/@GokulamKeralaFC

Indian Women’s League champions Gokulam Kerala were set to open their campaign in the AFC Women’s Club Championship against home side Sogdiana-W in Qarshi, Uzbekistan on August 23.

The Kozhikode-based side is then set to face Bam Khatoon FC of Iran in its next round-robin match on August 26.

While the Supreme Court has listed the matter for urgent hearing on Wednesday, it will be an anxious wait for the team that touched down in Tashkent on Tuesday.

Gokulam Kerala had participated in the last edition of the continental pilot tournament last year and finished third in the four-team event.

Mohun Bagan’s September 7 AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semi-finals under cloud

One of India’s most loved football clubs, ATK Mohun Bagan, were supposed to play its AFC Cup Inter-Zonal semi-finals on September 7, but a look at the AFC website will show that ATKMB’s name currently doesn’t feature among eight clubs in the play-offs.

The teams that are listed on the website are PSM Makassar, Kedah Darul Aman, Viettel FC, Kuala Lumpur City FC, Arabi SC, Al Seeb, East Riffa, Al Riffa.

Mohun Bagan played great football at the group league stage and their fans were eagerly waiting for the upcoming games at the continental level.

India’s AFC U-20 Qualifiers in Iraq starts September 14

India, who won the U-20 SAFF Cup recently under tutelage of S Venkatesh, is due to play the AFC U-20 Qualifiers in Iraq.

India is clubbed in a very tough group with hosts Iraq, Australia and Kuwait.

The matches are slated for September 14 (Iraq), 16 (Australia) and 18 (Kuwait) respectively at the Iraqi city of Basra.

Could lose out on massive FIFA grants

FIFA has reportedly sanctioned grants to the tune of $3 million in the last three years.

This money is used by AIFF for development of grassroots football in the country. If the ban persists, the AIFF stands to lose $500,000 annually in grants.

However, an AIFF insider said that FIFA currently pays its member nations in kind – such as construction of astro-turf, providing footballs, jerseys and other gears – and not in cash.

A timeline of similar FIFA bans on other countries

A timeline of embarrassment for Indian football

It all started to go from bad to worse as controversial former AIFF president Praful Patel, whose third term in office ended in December 2020, stayed in office citing a pending Supreme Court case.

The case that was pending since 2017, allowed him to extend his term while refusing to hold elections till the issue of a new constitution was settled by the top court. Patel violated all principles of good governance for multiple years.

As per rule, 12 years is the maximum term permitted to a national sports federation chief under the Sports Code.

It was host of officials from state units, along with former Mohun Bagan goalkeeper and current BJP leader Kalyan Chaubey, who then approached the court in their own capacities demanding intervention.

With FIFA suspending AIFF after the stroke of midnight on the 75th anniversary of Indian independence, the PTI gives a timeline of what transpired to this ban.

May 18: Supreme Court verdict forces AIFF chief Praful Patel and his executive committee to step down. Supreme Court also appoints a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by former top court judge AR Dave, former CEC SY Quraishi and ex-Indian football team captain Bhaskar Ganguly.

May 23: Praful Patel requests FIFA chief Gianni Infantino to not impose a ban on the country after the sports body was placed under a Committee of Administrators.

May 29: The CoA member S. Y. Quraishi says a newly-elected body of the AIFF should be in place by September end and a modified constitution will be submitted to the SC by July 15.

June 11: The COA and members of some affiliated units meet to discuss the way forward on holding the long-pending elections of the national federation at the earliest under a new constitution adhering to the national sports code, FIFA and AFC Statutes.

June 21: First round of talks between the visiting FIFA-AFC team and COA running the affairs of Indian football has “goes off well.”

June 22: The AIFF member units meet the visiting FIFA-AFC team and informed them that the Supreme Court intervention in the national sports body was “out of necessity”.

June 23: The visiting FIFA-AFC team sets deadlines to clean up the mess, asks the stakeholders to get the constitution approved by July 31 and conduct elections by September 15.

July 13: The COA sends final draft constitution of AIFF to FIFA *July 16- The CoA submits AIFF draft constitution to Supreme Court for its approval.

July 18: AIFF state units expressed unhappiness over several provisions in the final draft constitution, prepared by the CoA, but say willing to find middle ground.

The state associations, represented by a seven-member panel, had written to the FIFA that several clauses of the final draft are discriminatory and illogical.

July 21: Supreme court endorses the need to expedite the elections to the AIFF.

July 26: FIFA recommends AIFF to have 25 percent eminent player representation in its Executive Committee as co-opted members instead of the 50 percent stipulated in the draft constitution by CoA.

July 28: A Supreme Court bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant say it will hear the modalities for holding the elections on August 3.

August 3: Supreme Court directs AIFF executive committee to to expeditiously hold elections as per the schedule proposed by the CoA, which is currently running the affairs of the national federation.

The top court said that the Electoral College for the executive committee of AIFF would have representatives from 36 state associations and 36 representatives of eminent football players.

August 5: Supreme Court approves the COA timeline for AIFF elections, polls to be held on August 28 and the poll process will start on August 13.

August 6:FIFA threatens to suspend the AIFF and strip of its right to host the women’s U-17 World Cup in October due to a third party “influence”.

August 7: The COA assures FIFA that its is on course to set the All India Football Federation.

August 10: The COA files a contempt petition against ousted AIFF president Praful Patel for “interfering with the proceedings” of the Supreme Court.

August 11: Supreme Court warns the state units of “exercising its authority” if ousted AIFF chief Praful Patel attends its meetings and interferes with the administration of justice.

August 13: AIFF includes 36 ‘eminent’ players, including Bhaichung Bhutia and I. M. Vijayan, in the list of voters comprising the electoral college for the general’s body elections, which are to be held on August 28.

August 15: FIFA informs the Sports Ministry that it remains firm in its opposition to individual members’ inclusion in the electoral college for the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) elections. FIFA then suspends AIFF due to “undue influence from third parties” and says the U-17 Women’s World Cup “cannot currently be held in India as planned.”


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