Bhaichung Bhutia calls for fresh AIFF elections

Alen Philip MathewAlen Philip Mathew
November 9 2023
(Courtesy : PTI)

Bhaichung Bhutia voiced heavy criticism against AIFF’s current regime.

Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia has voiced strong opinions regarding the recent sacking of All India Football Federation (AIFF) Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran, citing a “breach of trust”. Bhutia emphasized that the accountability extends beyond Prabhakaran, implicating all top AIFF officials.

“The breach of trust should not be on Shaji alone but all the members heading the AIFF, including the president, vice-president, and treasurer,” Bhutia asserted in a statement to PTI. He criticized the decision to make Prabhakaran a scapegoat, calling for collective responsibility.

Bhaichung Bhutia highlighted key decisions made by the AIFF president and secretary, such as those related to the Asian Games and the withdrawal of bidding to host the Asian Cup. He urged a comprehensive change in leadership, stating, “The entire team, president, secretary-general, vice-president, and treasurer are responsible for this mess. Everyone should go, and elections should be held under the new constitution.”

Expressing no surprise at Shaji Prabhakaran’s dismissal, Bhutia criticized the mismanagement under the new regime’s tenure. He specifically referred to the elections that lifted FIFA’s suspension, emphasizing their temporary nature for hosting the U-17 Women’s World Cup.

“The election which happened at that time was a temporary one for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup and was held for the ban to be lifted,” Bhutia clarified. He stressed the need for immediate elections under the new constitution to save Indian football.

Bhutia also criticized the performance of the national team under the current administration, pointing out shortcomings in away games. Despite winning domestic tournaments, he labelled the overall performance as a “disaster” and called for the formation of a new body to rejuvenate Indian football.

“The new set of members have to come in, a new body should be formed and only then football can be saved in India and brought back on track,” Bhutia concluded.

The AIFF’s decision to sack Shaji Prabhakaran on grounds of ‘breach of trust’ has stirred controversy, with Prabhakaran challenging the move’s constitutional validity.

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