FIFA statutes don’t allow voting rights for footballers in the electoral process.

Legendary Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia backed the Supreme Court’s decision to remove the Committee of Administrators (CoA) but said the fight for the players’ rights will go on. Bhutia, welcomed the court’s verdict as it was “in the interest of the Indian football and not for any party.”

The Supreme Court, on Monday, repealed the CoA it had appointed in May to oversee AIFF’s administration and handed the daily management of the administration to the federation. It also modified its verdict from August 3 and postponed the elections, originally scheduled for August 28, by one week while also ruling that the AIFF electoral college will only consist of the 36 state associations. In its earlier order, the apex court had allowed an equal number (50 percent) of representation of eminent players in the AIFF general body with voting rights.

Bhutia had then gone ahead and filed his nomination for the president’s post. However, after Monday’s verdict, his candidature stands invalid as two eminent players had proposed him in the nomination process.

“The decision was in the interest of Indian football and not for any party or the other. The first priority was the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, that’s a prestige issue for India. The second is the lifting of the ban on India. The priority for all of us — players, CoA, state associations — is to ensure the hosting of the World Cup and the ban is lifted,” Bhaichung Bhutia was quoted as saying by PTI following the SC judgment.

However, the ex-Indian captain asserted that he will keep fighting for the players’ rights. Bhutia hoped that when the Constitution is framed in the future, ex-players will be welcomed into the administration and in the decision-making process.

“The players will keep on fighting, keep on appealing to the federation, to the sports ministry and the Supreme Court that when the constitution of the AIFF is framed in future, the ex-footballers should also get voting rights. They can contribute to administration and decision-making.

“For the last 75 years, we have not seen any footballer becoming president of not even a state association, leave alone the AIFF. The players have given their blood and sweat for the country,” he told the news agency.

Bhutia, one of the highest-capped India internationals, also said that there were many great footballers who could have become good administrators. The 45-year-old also pointed out some players from the current generation.

“In future also, if you look at the players, the likes of Gurpreet Sandhu, Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan can also look to get into administration and not just coaches. It’s important to encourage ex-footballers to come into just not coaches but to administration also so that their voices can be heard to develop the game of football.”

Bhaichung Bhutia had also filed an application for intervention in the Supreme Court requesting the court to back its earlier order that would have allowed 36 eminent players to have voting rights in the election to pick the Executive Committee, including the President and Vice-president. However, the bench of Justices Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna ruled that, as required by FIFA statutes, only member associations will be part of the electoral college.

However, it also said that in the 23-member executive committee six members, four men and two women, will be eminent players who will be co-opted by the committee and will be given voting rights.

Bhutia welcomed the move but said “We want more than just being nominated members. We want to be members of the AIFF General Body and get voting rights.”

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and join our community on Telegram.