Threats materialised into reality for Indian football as the apex body of the sport, FIFA, suspended the country’s top administrative organisation, the All India Football Federation, for “undue influence from third parties”. The Bureau of the FIFA council, which passed the judgment, also took away the country’s rights to hold the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022, which was scheduled to be held from October 11-30.
In its statement, FIFA said that it was in touch with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India. This suggested a glimmer of hope that the ban could be a short one if certain conditions were met. But how did things come to this pass?
The current set of troubles for Indian football began after the erstwhile AIFF president, Praful Patel, who was also a FIFA council member, refused to relinquish his post as the head of football in the country. His excuse for not exiting the stage was the long-drawn-out pandemic, coupled with a court case regarding the AIFF constitution.
But on May 18, the Supreme Court intervened and removed Patel from his post. The SC also appointed a Committee of Administrators (COA) to run the AIFF. The setting up of this COA is where the contentious relationship with FIFA began, which eventually led to the ban.
As of now, the AIFF has been suspended by FIFA due to “third-party interference”. Third-party interference refers to a situation in which a member association of FIFA fails to remain independent, is co-opted, and no longer has control over its organisation. In this case, the SC’s diktat to the COA to run the AIFF was a textbook case of third-party interference, according to FIFA statutes.
The suspension means, firstly, no international football — and this applies to all national teams, across all age groups. It also applies to both men’s and women’s football, and to all club teams in India.
The suspension also impacts international transfers, as well as any courses or developmental programs that AIFF officials could, or were taking part in. This in effect means a total ban on all football-related activities outside India. However, the league in the country, as well as domestic transfers, can continue.
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