FIFA Bans India For ‘Undue Influence From Third Parties’story

Women’s U17 World Cup not to be held in India

New Delhi-
 In a massive setback for the country, world football governing body FIFA on Tuesday suspended India for “undue influence from third parties” and said the U-17 Women’s World Cup “cannot currently be held in India as planned.”

The country is scheduled to host the FIFA tournament from October 11-30.

This is the first time the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been banned by FIFA in its 85 year history, with the apex body saying there have been “flagrant violations of the FIFA Statutes”.

“The Bureau of the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to suspend the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes,” the FIFA said in a statement.

The Bureau of the FIFA Council said the lifting of the suspension will be subject to repealing of the Committee of Administrators’ (CoA) mandate in full. In a statement, the FIFA also said it wants the AIFF administration to “be fully in charge of the AIFF’s daily affairs”.

“The suspension will be lifted once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs.”

“The suspension means that the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022, scheduled to take place in India on 11-30 October 2022, cannot currently be held in India as planned. FIFA is assessing the next steps with regard to the tournament and will refer the matter to the Bureau of the Council if and when necessary.

A ban on India has been on the cards since the Supreme Court removed Praful Patel as AIFF president on May 18 for not holding elections, due in December 2020.

The court had appointed a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), headed by former apex court judge AR Dave, to manage the affairs of the national federation.

The CoA, which has former Chief Commissioner of India SY Quraishi and ex India captain Bhaskar Ganguly as other members, also had to frame its constitution in line with the National Sports Code and model guidelines.

The Bureau of the FIFA Council decided that upon lifting of the suspension, the AIFF constitution will have to be revised in accordance with the requirements of the FIFA and the AFC and to be approved by the AIFF general assembly without interference from any third party.

The FIFA, “concurrently”, wants an “independent electoral committee to be elected by the AIFF general assembly to run the elections of a new executive committee”.

It also said the AIFF must “carry out the upcoming electoral process as per the statutory requirements and to hold its elections based on the pre-existing membership of the AIFF (i.e state associations only).

As per the FIFA move and with the AIFF losing all membership rights until further notice, the Indian clubs and representatives (players, referees, officials) are no longer entitled to take part in international suspension until the suspension is lifted.

“This also means neither the AIFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programmes, courses or training from FIFA and/or the AFC,” the world body said in its detailed statement.

The FIFA has never allowed third party interference in the affairs of its member units whether by the court or the government. It has set up normalisation committees in various countries in cases similar to India.

FIFA, though, has kept a window open for India, saying it is in touch with the sports ministry on the issue.

“FIFA is in constant constructive contact with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India and is hopeful that a positive outcome to the case may still be achieved,” it said.

Following the ban, the fate of the AIFF elections, to be held on August 28 on the orders of the Supreme is not yet known.

The poll process began on August 13 as the top court approved the time-line prepared by the Committee of Administrators (CoA).

The CoA has already appointed a returning officers and has published the electoral college for the elections, including 36 eminent players in the list. The filing of nominations is to start from Wednesday till Friday.

India’s football fraternity is hoping that a last-minute solution will salvage the FIFA under-17 women’s world cup when the Supreme Court hears the matter on Wednesday.

The sports ministry had filed an application in the Supreme Court, seeking a modification to its August 5 order that allowed 36 eminent players to vote in the AIFF elections on the grounds that the world body was not in favour of ‘individual membership’ in the AIFF.

According to sources, FIFA re-iterated its stand to the sports ministry on Monday and issued the statement to ban India after that (around 10pm Swiss local time; wee hours on Tuesday in India).

The Supreme Court on August 3 directed the executive committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to expeditiously hold elections as per the schedule proposed by the CoA.

 Timeline of how Indian football faced ultimate embarrassment

It all started to go from bad to worse as controversial former AIFF president Praful Patel, whose third term in office ended in December 2020, stayed in office citing a pending Supreme Court case.

The case that was pending since 2017, allowed him to extend his term while refusing to hold elections till the issue of a new constitution was settled by the top court. Patel violated all principles of good governance for multiple years.

As per rule, 12 years is the maximum term permitted to a national sports federation chief under the Sports Code.

It was host of officials from state units, along with former Mohun Bagan goalkeeper and current BJP leader Kalyan Chaubey, who then approached the court in their own capacities demanding intervention.

With FIFA suspending AIFF after the stroke of midnight on the 75th anniversary of Indian independence, the PTI gives a timeline of what transpired to this ban.

*May 18- Supreme Court verdict forces AIFF chief Praful Patel and his executive committee to step down. SC also appoints a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by former top court judge AR Dave, former CEC SY Quraishi and ex-Indian football team captain Bhaskar Ganguly.

*May 23- Praful Patel requests FIFA chief Gianni Infantino to not impose a ban on the country after the sports body was placed under a Committee of Administrators.

*May 29- The CoA member S. Y. Quraishi says a newly-elected body of the AIFF should be in place by September end and a modified constitution will be submitted to the SC by July 15.

*June 11- The COA and members of some affiliated units meet to discuss the way forward on holding the long-pending elections of the national federation at the earliest under a new constitution adhering to the national sports code, FIFA and AFC Statutes.

*June 21- First round of talks between the visiting FIFA-AFC team and COA running the affairs of Indian football has “goes off well.”

*June 22- The AIFF member units meet the visiting FIFA-AFC team and informed them that the Supreme Court intervention in the national sports body was “out of necessity”.

*June 23- The visiting FIFA-AFC team sets deadlines to clean up the mess, asks the stakeholders to get the constitution approved by July 31 and conduct elections by September 15.

*July 13- The COA sends final draft constitution of AIFF to FIFA

*July 16- The CoA submits AIFF draft constitution to Supreme Court for its approval.

*July 18- AIFF state units expressed unhappiness over several provisions in the final draft constitution, prepared by the CoA, but say willing to find middle ground.

The state associations, represented by a seven-member panel, had written to the FIFA that several clauses of the final draft are discriminatory and illogical.

*July 21- Supreme court endorses the need to expedite the elections to the AIFF.

*July 26- FIFA recommends AIFF to have 25 percent eminent player representation in its Executive Committee as co-opted members instead of the 50 percent stipulated in the draft constitution by CoA.

*July 28- A SC bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant say it will hear the modalities for holding the elections on August 3.

*August 3- SC directs AIFF executive committee to to expeditiously hold elections as per the schedule proposed by the CoA, which is currently running the affairs of the national federation.

The top court said that the Electoral College for the executive committee of AIFF would have representatives from 36 state associations and 36 representatives of eminent football players.

*August 5- Supreme Court approves the COA time-line for AIFF elections, polls to be held on August 28 and the poll process will start on August 13.

*August 6- FIFA threatens to suspend the AIFF and strip of its right to host the women’s U-17 World Cup in October due to a third party “influence”.

*August 7- The COA assures FIFA that its is on course to set the All India Football Federation.

*August 10- The COA files a contempt petition against ousted AIFF president Praful Patel for “interfering with the proceedings” of the Supreme Court.

*August 11- SC warns the state units of “exercising its authority” if ousted AIFF chief Praful Patel attends its meetings and interferes with the administration of justice.

*August 13- AIFF includes 36 ’eminent’ players, including Bhaichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan, in the list of voters comprising the electoral college for the general’s body elections, which are to be held on August 28.

*August 15- FIFA informs the Sports Ministry that it remains firm in its opposition to individual members’ inclusion in the electoral college for the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) elections.

* FIFA suspends AIFF due to “undue influence from third parties” and says the U-17 Women’s World Cup “cannot currently be held in India as planned.”

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