The politician was recently moved aside from his role as the head of Indian football’s apex body.
I thank the Honourable Supreme Court for bringing finality to a long-pending issue since 2017. The term of the elected committee expired in December 2020, and we had in November 2020 suo moto approached the Honourable Supreme Court for an early resolution of the matter, and appropriate directions. The AIFF constitution broadly follows the sports code 2011 for age and tenure limits, and therefore I was in any way going to step down from office, and neither was I eligible for re-election.
During my tenure, I have had the honour of serving Indian Football. I would like to thank all stakeholders of the football family including our players – both men and women, our State Associations, the clubs, AIFF officials, the media, the Union and State Governments, marketing partners and sponsors, and all the lovers of our beautiful game.
I am very happy that we have been able to professionalise Indian football and that we have a very strong grassroots programme which in the coming years will catapult us to the next level, and find its true place and recognition in the global map.
India has also had the honour and privilege to host the first-ever FIFA World Cup in India which was a resounding success. It brought international recognition and appreciation for the growth and popularity of football in India. I have also had the proud honour of being the Senior Vice president of the Asian Football Confederation, as well as being the first Indian representative to be duly elected to the FIFA Council with the highest number of votes.
At the moment, we currently have two strong leagues. We have been successful in integrating the two leagues with a proper roadmap of promotion and relegation, while providing due respect to the legacy clubs. Indian clubs have started to do well in Asian Champions League, promising much for the future. The Indian Women’s League has also grown from strength to strength, providing an adequate platform for all budding young women footballers to pursue their dreams.
We have also been able to kick-start the National Centre of Excellence, a state-of-the-art facility for training, and boarding of our National Teams in Kolkata. The NCE is partly operational at the moment with the Blue Tigers training there at the moment, and will be completed soon.
Furthermore, a giant leap of faith helped us to move upwards and onwards from 173 to 96 in the FIFA. I am also extremely proud of the manner the women’s team have been playing, and currently, the Blue Tigresses are at 59 in the FIFA ladder. The boys and girls age group teams are also performing well, substantiating the good work done which we have been stressing upon at the YDP level.
We have provided the best training facilities and coaches with exposure tours to all teams, with special emphasis on modern sports science. At the moment, we have the highest number of professional coaches through our robust Coach Education Programme, along with a referee’s development programme.
We have also been able to professionalise the AlFF, and follow the highest standards of financial and corporate governance at the Federation, with many young dynamic and highly qualified, and motivated professionals serving Indian Football.
I wish the Committee of administrators all the very best, and request them to fulfil their responsibilities of providing a new Constitution compliant with the National Sports Code which we are already broadly complying with, while keeping in mind AFC and FIFA statutes. A speedy resolution, and a newly elected body will serve in the best interest of Indian Football.
I am always available for the service to take Indian Football forward together, and once again express my gratitude for having received the love and affection and honour to serve the sport.