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AIFF had little option but to seek an extension of term for current Executive Committee

A potential ban from FIFA was one of the reasons the Indian FA sought an extension for its current Executive Committee

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has pretty much been left without a choice in its decision to approach the Supreme Court (SC) of India to seek an extension of term for the current Executive Committee. 

The committee’s term is set to end on 21st December 2020 but the lack of a Constitution that purportedly does not conform to the National Sports Code has meant that the Indian FA are unable to hold elections to form the next Executive Committee. 

The issue kicked off in October 2017 when the Delhi High Court (HC) annulled the last AIFF elections which were held in December 2016 when Praful Patel was elected as the President. The Delhi HC stated that the elections were held without following the then newly-implemented National Sports Code and appointed former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi as an independent administrator to look after the AIFF’s affairs until fresh elections were held. 

The AIFF went on to approach the Supreme Court against the decision, arguing that India was in danger of being de-recognised by FIFA which only allows an elected body to run an affiliated FA. 

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“The High Court had set aside the election of the AIFF committee. We are seeking a stay on it (high court’s order). Under the FIFA Rules, a country is recognised only if there is an elected body and if there is no elected body, a country is de-recognised by the FIFA,” the AIFF counsel told the bench back then. 

The Supreme Court duly stayed the High Court’s ruling in November 2017 but appointed two ombudsmen (Qureshi and former India goalkeeper Bhaskar Ganguly) to formulate a new AIFF constitution within eight weeks and then conduct elections. The court allowed the current Executive Committee members to discharge their duties till then. 

However, the ombudsmen haven’t finalised a constitution even after three years and have asked the court for an extension of the deadline multiple times, most recently in February 2020. 

With the term of the Praful Patel-led Executive Committee set to wind down, the Indian FA are in a tight bind. They are unable to conduct fresh elections due to the lack of a constitution (still not finalised by the court-appointed committee). The last elections were contested because the legality of the existing constitution was challenged. 

As far as Indian football is concerned, the next few years are very important. India is set to host the 2022 U17 Women’s World Cup (after the 2020 event was cancelled) and the 2022 AFC Women’s Asia Cup. India has also bid for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup hosting rights. 

If the term of the current committee expires and the court appoints an ad-hoc administrator to take charge of Indian FA, there is a high chance of FIFA banning India – a development that poses significant risks to the marquee events mentioned above. The damage could also extend further. 

In such a scenario, the AIFF has been left with no other option but to seek an extension to the term of the current office-bearers until the new Constitution is ready for which they have sought the direction of the Supreme Court

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