Is a Fresh Storm Brewing Over Crucial AIFF Polls?

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Just when it seemed that all decks were clear to hold the all-important elections to pick the new office-bearers of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), a fresh storm seems to be brewing surrounding the polls.

At a meeting held in the national capital on Wednesday in which representatives from 25 out of the 36 state associations were present, a decision was taken to unanimously elect former India goalkeeper and Bengal BJP leader Kalyan Chaubey as the next AIFF President. However, now it has come to light that there was an air of resentment during the consultations.

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The President of Rajasthan Football Association, Manvendra Singh, had walked out of Wednesday’s meeting, citing that FIFA had banned AIFF because of third-party interference, which is again being allowed now.

“The members present at the meeting proposed a name saying they were under pressure from their respective Chief Minister or somebody in power to propose the name. So, whoever is under pressure, is under pressure from a third party and that’s what I protested against,” Singh told IANS on Thursday.

“When I spoke at the meeting after Saji Prabhakaran’s opening remarks, I said this whole process involves third-party interference which is against the interest of the game. I also said that nobody knows better than the state associations how difficult it is to manage football.

“You have to take all the stakeholders along. And now you are proposing someone’s name who has never worked in a state body, nor run the game even at the district level. So how can he manage national football? This shows there is a third party interest involved in the entire process,” Singh argued.

“In a way, we are all violating the principle of third party interference,” Singh concluded.

In another important development, football icon Bhaichung Bhutia on Thursday filed a fresh nomination for the post of AIFF President. Incidentally, his nomination was proposed by the Andhra Pradesh Football Association and seconded by the Rajasthan Football Association, of which Singh is the President.

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