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AIFF issues apology to Gokulam Kerala for AFC Women’s Club Championship exit

Published at :August 27, 2022 at 9:49 PM
Modified at :August 27, 2022 at 9:49 PM
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Sathvik Bharadwaj

The Malabarians were unable to participate in the tournament due to the ban imposed on Indian football.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) issued an apology to Gokulam Kerala FC for their unfortunate exit from the AFC Women's Club Championship. The Gokulam Kerala women's team were disqualified from participating in the AFC Women's Champions League following FIFA's suspension of AIFF. "We are also extremely sorry for Gokulam Kerala's exit from the AFC Women's Club Championship due to the suspension," said the official Indian football Twitter page.

Gokulam Kerala, who invested heavily to prepare for the tournament, were left in shock by the news of the suspension. FIFA announced the decision to suspend the AIFF late on August 15.

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The GKFC women's team had then just landed in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for the tournament. They were slated to play Uzbek club Sogdiana Jizzakh and Iran's Bam Khatoon. However, with AFC barring them from travelling and training for the tournament and zero response from the AIFF, the players were left stranded in Tashkent for two days and returned home dismayed.

Desperate to play, the club also wrote to the Prime Minister and made several appeals, but to no avail. Gokulam were eventually disqualified from the tournament and returned home dejected and heartbroken.

Gokulam Kerala, who finished third in the inaugural edition last year, had qualified for the tournament by virtue of winning the Indian Women's League.

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AIFF’s apologetic statement

Hours after FIFA lifted the ban, the AIFF via a Twitter statement said they were "Sorry for GKFC's exit from the competition due to the suspension."

In a Twitter thread, the AIFF called the disqualification as “Indian Football’s greatest loss in the last 11 days." They expressed sorrow for the 23 girls who had trained so hard for the event.

"It remains #IndianFootball's greatest loss in the last 11 days, and Indian Football owes an apology to the talented girls who had trained so hard for this event. We request the players, staff and club management to remain strong, and we are sure that they will bounce back once again."


FIFA lifts ban

11 days after imposing a ban on AIFF for "Undue third party influence," FIFA lifted the ban on August 25. In a statement on Friday, FIFA informed that it has revoked the ban. The world governing body also informed that it has reinstated India as the hosts for the U-17 Women's World Cup.

FIFA's decision to lift the ban came after the Supreme Court of India repealed the Committee of Administrators (CoA). In another decision, the apex court also modified changes to the AIFF's election programme as required by FIFA statutes. The Supreme Court moved swiftly to dissolve the three-member CoA and modified the earlier order to help expedite the overturning.

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