The government in its application also proposed changes to the electoral programme.

A day prior to a crucial hearing in the Supreme Court regarding the FIFA ban on AIFF, the central government, on Sunday, filed a petition seeking to end the tenure of the court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). It also suggested changes to the election programme as demanded by FIFA, putting the current nominations at risk of being null and void.

The application before the apex court is in line with the demands made by FIFA to lift the ban on Indian football. The world governing body had suspended the All India Football Federation (AIFF) due to “undue third party influence”, leaving the country’s football institutions in a shock and its future in disarray.

A report by PTI states that the government virtually accepted all the demands listed by FIFA to lift the ban. It not only includes dissolving the CoA, but also not allowing more than 25 percent of eminent players in the AIFF’s electoral college. In Its letter to the AIFF following the suspension, FIFA had called for the CoA’s mandate to be repealed. It had also asked for an “AIFF administration to be fully in charge of the AIFF’s daily affairs” and that the elections be carried out “based on the pre-existing membership structure of the AIFF.”

In its petition, the GOI requested that “the mandate of the COA be declared to be over in full from 23.08.2022.” The application also said that the “day-to-day management of AIFF shall be looked after by the AIFF administration led by the acting Secretary General…and the CoA will have no role in the administration of AIFF from 22.08.2022.”

While the government sought to end the CoA’s mandate, it requested the apex court to allow the returning officer Umesh Sinha to continue until the elections are over. “…Be pleased to direct the Returning Officers to complete all stages of election up to the counting of votes and declaration of results with such changed dates as this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to specify.”

Regarding the AIFF elections, the government proposed changes and called for the process to be started fresh again. “Because of the suggested changes in the electoral college, the process of election may be required to be started ‘de novo’ since the change in the voters list may affect the validity of some of the nomination forms which may have been proposed/seconded by the player members who are now prayed for being excluded from the voters’ list,” read the petition as quoted by the news agency.

As many as seven candidates, including two former players (Bhaichung Bhutia and Kalyan Chaubey), filed nominations for the President’s post following an earlier green signal from the SC to the CoA to hold elections on August 28. However, with FIFA barring individual members from being part of the electoral college, Bhutia’s candidature may be revoked. He has been proposed and seconded by two eminent players (Deepak Mondal and Madhu Kumari).

In its petition, the government also suggested that the AIFF’s Executive Committee may consist of 23 members, including six eminent players. “Out of the six eminent payers, four will be men and two will be women. The eminent players may be nominated (co-opted) in the EC and shall have the voting rights in Executive Committee, thus making their representation to be around 25 percent of the EC,” the application read.

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