Acting Secretary to Lead Day-to-day Management of AIFF; SC Scraps CoA

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Acting Secretary General Sunando Dhar shall lead the administration and day-to-day management of the AIFF exclusively as the Supreme Court scrapped the Committee of Administrators it had instilled to run the football body of India.

The government of India had appointed a Committee of Administrators to get things at the Indian football federation in order. But FIFA suspended AIFF after citing the role of the Coa as a third-party intervention, something that the world football’s governing body doesn’t tolerate.

FIFA’s letter to Dhar mentioned that the CoA had to be removed from the position of power and the decision by the committee to include former internationals in the voters’ list will not be entertained, in order for the suspension of the country’s football federation to be lifted.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has sought the lordship Justice D Y Chandrachud’s intervention in the matter of national interest pertaining to the suspension of AIFF by the world’s football governing body, FIFA.

“It would be disastrous for the nation as we will lose the right to hold the world cup and what is more disastrous is that our players won’t be able to play on any international platform,” said Mehta reflecting on the status of the U-17 Women’s World Cup which was slated to be held in India later this year.

ALSO READ| FIFA’s Ban on AIFF Might Take a Toll on Future of Indian Women’s Football

SG Mehta brought to the court’s attention that the football governing body has imposed such restrictions and sanctions on other nations that have failed to follow the guidelines too.

“FIFA is having a similar treatment for all, India is not being singled out and it is a uniform policy that FIFA has,” SG Mehta said.

Solicitor General Mehta elaborated on the guidelines furnished by FIFA stating that the way forward is through the election of a new governing body.

“We are in constant touch with FIFA, while discussing with them they say that uniformly, we want the Federation to be managed either by an elected body or someone appointed by the Elected Body.”

The matter is being heard by a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud

Mehta also touched upon the proposition of including 25% of eminent players in the elected committee.  “In the Electoral College, there are 35+1, Ladakh is an associate member, so, insistence was that players had to be a part of the administration. Right now, we propose, that 25% of the Elected Committee will be of eminent players.”

The Solicitor General also spoke about legendary Indian football Bhaichung Bhutia, who has shown interest in serving on the management board of the national team after years of success on the pitch.

“Today I received an application by Bhaichung Bhutia, he is the Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar and he is requesting to be a part of the Committee, but, I say he is aiming too low.”

“I, on behalf of the Government of India want to say that we want to use the services of the legend for a very large purpose.”

Speaking on the crux of the issues troubling Indian football, SG Mehta shed light on the current state of the draft constitution of the AIFF.

SG Mehta also spoke about including an amicus curiae in order to accelerate the process.

“Mr Gopal Shankarnarayan may be appointed as an amicus curiae and help in the finalising of the Constitution and may help the court in other affairs regarding this matter.”

“I had extensive arguments with the CoA, Justice Dave has clarified that the Committee has no intention of taking over their positions. We’ll do what the Court says,” Shankarnarayan said.

“FIFA never intervened in the past two years when Constitution was not being followed. This Court has been a parent to all of us.”

The Court asked Shankarnarayan and Mehta to discuss a role that can be given to Bhaichung Bhutia in the AIFF in order to make use of the Sikkimese sniper’s expertise.

Mehra also felt that FIFA, which sanctioned the shock punitive action while talks between stakeholders were ongoing should have held discussions with the Government of India before imposing the suspension.

Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra backed the claim as he said “AIFF had no right to communicate with FIFA without the recognition by the Govt of India.”

The election which was supposed to be held on the 28th of August 2022, is pushed by a week. The executive committee shall comprise 23 members including the president, treasurer and secretary, who shall be elected by the 36 member associations and 6 members will be drawn from eminent players.

The court ruling also said that the returning officials Umesh Sinha & Tapas Bhattacharya appointed by COA for Football Federation polls be deemed to be appointed by the court as there were no objections to their reinstatement.

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