The South Asian Football Federation poll will take place on July 2nd.

In the last few weeks, things have gone from bad to worse for the All India Football Federation (AIFF). With FIFA serving an ultimatum to the AIFF, they must conduct the elections and elect a new body within the September 15 deadline.

And the fact that the AIFF was unable to send any representative to the SAFF Elective Congress add a bit more fuel to the fire. 

The South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) election will take place on July 2nd at its headquarters in Dhaka and is expected to be won by Bangladesh Football Federation chief Kazi Salahuddin for the fourth time in a row.

India’s sole representative to the meet was supposed to be the AIFF’s ex-vice president Subrata Dutta. But had to withdraw his nomination after the AIFF’s member associations expressed their displeasure following an appeal from ousted president Praful Patel to the CoA for Dutta. 

Praful Patel virtually attended the final meeting of the visiting FIFA-AFC delegation with the Committee of Administrators (CoA) and representatives of AIFF state associations on Thursday as a FIFA Council member. 

The saga began with the AIFF failing to conduct presidential elections in the given timeframe which led to the Supreme Court’s decision to hand over AIFF’s governance to the three-member CoA. 

Following the Supreme Court’s judgment, FIFA sent a delegation to record the on-ground happenings in the AIFF. 

“After FIFA announced a deadline of Sept 15 to conduct elections and July 31 for approval of the new constitution, the meeting had practically ended with half of the attendants leaving their seats.

“Then Patel requested to speak and appealed to allow Subrata Dutta to stand for the election so that India does not go unrepresented in SAFF,” a state body official, who attended the meeting, told News9 Sports, without willing to be identified.

“FIFA said it’s not really our agenda so we will leave it to the CoA. The CoA said they will think about it.” Gauging the general mood, Dutta decided to pull out. “It was unnecessarily raised in a meeting held for some other issue, particularly on the eve of an election when the constitution is being discussed.

It was a blatant attempt to disrupt the unity of state associations on the eve of the elections,” the state official said. A southern state body official didn’t want to read too much into it, reminded of the more pressing issues in hand for Indian football. 

“I don’t think it is a significant development. Not all countries of SAFF are attending the meeting and we can always do this after we get a new constitution and a new committee can come in,” he said, requesting anonymity.

“I believe that the CoA or somebody on their behalf has spoken to the SAFF secretary, who has assured that when a new committee comes in, they can always nominate someone or fill the vacant slot in the next annual general meeting. 

“What is more important is for state associations to stay together to get a new constitution in consultation with the CoA and set the wheels of elections in motion and meet the deadlines set by FIFA to avoid a ban.” Moreover, FIFA has also instructed the AIFF to finalize the date of elections in its Special General Body Meeting by August 5. Followed by the elections on September 15. And failure in fulfilling any of the above-mentioned timelines could lead to India’s expulsion from world football.

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