Football’s apex body has promised to lift the suspension once things are in order.

Everything was going in a smooth direction, it seemed till yesterday night. The country was celebrating its 76th Independence Day when FIFA was typing on a piece of paper which would shake the nation. FIFA in the letter dated 15th August, 2022, addressed to the acting General Secretary, Sunando Dhar, cleared its stand.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been banned. A detailed reading of the letter will however, establish clarity in the minds of the fraternity that the ban is not an eternal one. Also, the same can be lifted once things are done according to plan. Khel Now has received access to the letter sent by FIFA to the AIFF.

Here’s what we bring forward to you from the letter.

What went wrong?

We are all familiar with the sequence of events. How the AIFF executive committee was banned by the Supreme Court of India and the appointment of Committee of Administrators. Even the drafting and bringing I-League back to the top pedestal was a part of events that took place since May. 

However, FIFA didn’t bat an eye on all those trivial issues. The main problem expressed by FIFA was the interference of a third party (CoA) in the daily affairs of the AIFF. FIFA doesn’t promote such a thing. However, a joint delegate mission (FIFA-AFC) came to India in June (21-23) and observed the entire ongoing. As per reports, the meetings and the observation yielded a positive outcome. A roadmap was agreed upon by all the relevant parties – FIFA, AFC, AIFF and other relevant stakeholders.

However, in the span of a month, things changed. On 5th August, a jointly signed letter from Fatma Samoura, General Secretary of FIFA and Datuk Windsor John, General Secretary of AFC, was sent to the AIFF. A warning was issued in the same. FIFA, in the recent letter, has spoken of the deviations. The same were addressed on 5th August. Apart from the CoA, FIFA also didn’t approve the presence of eminent players in the executive committee unless they are co-opted!

AIFF election issue

FIFA were made aware of certain clauses regarding the AIFF elections. The same were previously approved by the Supreme Court of India. The first clause demanded that the elections had to be conducted “prior to the adoption of a new constitution.” This was suggested since finalizing a constitution and then proceeding with the elections would have been time-consuming.

Secondly, the body was ordered to hold elections for an “interim mandate of three months, until the new constitution was finalised”. FIFA would have never agreed to this! It understood that the CoA would still play a role in this “interim mandate” arrangement.

Thirdly, the elections had to be based on the national sports code and article 26 of the “draft” constitution. Lastly, as mentioned in the letter, “with the defined electoral college reshuffled in order to include players.”

FIFA stated that the interference of the third party would remain active. It didn’t match with their statutes – article 14 pars 1 i) and 3 of FIFA statutes and in accordance with art. 16 par. 1 of FIFA statutes.

Will the ban be lifted? When?

It’s not “yet” over. Yes, the ban can be lifted. If things go in line to alleviate FIFA’s reservations, then very soon!

FIFA mentioned that they will lift the ban only if these two conditions are met:

  • The CoA has to stop functioning
  • AIFF administrators need to be in-charge of AIFF’s daily affairs

If India goes through these two checks, the ban will be lifted. The sooner it happens, the better for the nation.

What to do after the ban is lifted?

The last section of the letter assures that the ban is aimed to be a short-term one, just to bring things back into place. After the ban is lifted, the AIFF administrators have to ensure a few things. Firstly, the letter stated, “the AIFF constitution needs to be revised in accordance with the requirements of FIFA and the AFC”. The same has to be approved by the “AIFF general assembly” and there shouldn’t be any third-party interference in the same.

Secondly, an independent electoral committee has to be setup by the AIFF general assembly. This committee will facilitate the election process of the new AIFF executive committee.

Lastly, “The AIFF to carry out the upcoming electoral process as per the statutory requirement and to hold its elections based on the pre-existing membership structure of AIFF (i.e. state associations only)”.

Hopefully, the responsible stakeholders will look after the issue. Already the CoA have expressed their reactions apart from the footballers, ex-players and other personalities and fans across social media.

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