There has been a massive letdown for football fans all over the country. Fans were left disappointed with the latest decision by FIFA’s top committee. Threats became a reality for Indian football when the sport’s governing body, FIFA, suspended the country’s highest administrative body, the All India Football Federation (AIFF), for “undue influence from third parties.” The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which was slated to take place from October 11–30 of 2022, was also revoked by the FIFA council’s bureau along with the ruling.
FIFA stated in its statement that it was in contact with India’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. This offered a ray of optimism that the ban would be lifted quickly if certain requirements were met.
FIFA banned the All India Football Federation (AIFF) late Monday, citing “undue intervention by a third party.” This “third party” refers to the actions of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). Nevertheless, there’s more to it than that.
This incident came just weeks after everything looked to be going well between the international and Indian governing bodies, just days after an electoral college of 36 former players was announced. This contributed to the prohibition.
While the Supreme Court was involved from the beginning, let’s look at what we know, i.e publicly accessed information that has transpired with the CoA, the SC, and FIFA over the past few months, to comprehend the circumstances of the ban.
The international governing body continued, saying it was in “continuous constructive touch with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India and is hopeful that a favorable outcome to the case may yet be achieved.” This is FIFA’s first suspension of the AIFF in its 85-years history.
Why Was AIFF Suspended By FIFA?
Since the Supreme Court removed Praful Patel as president of the AIFF on May 18, 2022, because he failed in conducting elections that were supposed to take place in December of 2020 and went on to form a Committee of Administrators consisting of three members. The ban seemed almost inevitable. The head of this committee is a former top court judge named AR Dave. It was developed to carry out the organization’s affairs efficiently.
The CoA also had to draft AIFF’s constitution following the National Sports Code and model guidelines.
According to the FIFA Statutes, member federations should not be subject to political or judicial intervention in their nations.FIFA and AFC went on to send a joint mission to India. This meant assessing the condition of football in the Asian subcontinent.
- On June 23, the mission’s three-day stay concluded. The mission said that the “next steps should be the ratification of the AIFF Statutes in conformity with the FIFA/AFC principles of good governance and the holding of an Electoral Congress to pick the next AIFF leadership.”
- In July, the CoA filed a proposed constitution for the AIFF to the Supreme Court. The constitution called for 50% (36) prominent player representation in the AIFF’s electoral college and executive council. The state units disagree with several of the proposed constitution’s provisions and the situation presented to the SC.
The declaration that 36 “eminent” football players would be voting members of the electoral college at the hearing was another significant event that caused FIFA to respond. This ensured that players and the state body assembly members were equally represented.
- On August 6, FIFA wrote to the sports ministry, indicating that while they recognized the value of player representation, it should not exceed 25% of the EC. They claimed this to ensure that the power of the state bodies (which comprise the AIFF General Assembly) was preserved, following FIFA laws. They noted that India was running the risk of a suspension and everything that came with it. FIFA threatened to suspend the AIFF owing to “influence” from a third party.
- On August 15, once again FIFA told the Indian sports ministry that it is opposed to the inclusion of individual constituents in the electoral college for the upcoming AIFF elections. According to FIFA, each elector in the electoral college should represent a different state association or other organization.
- On August 16, FIFA officially suspended AIFF with “immediate effect due to excessive influence from outside parties, which constitutes a major violation of the FIFA Statutes.”
Can The Ban Be Lifted?
Once the order to establish a Committee of Administrators to take the authority of the AIFF Executive Committee has been rescinded and the AIFF administration has complete control over the AIFF’s daily operations, the suspension would be lifted, FIFA noted.
In other words, the suspension will be lifted as soon as AIFF complies fully with the FIFA Statutes.
What Does It Entail?
First and foremost, the suspension entails a suspension of all football on the international plane across all teams and age divisions. It also applies to all club teams in India with both men’s and women’s football.
International transfers and any courses or professional development programs that AIFF officials could have been enrolled in are also affected by the suspension. This effectively means that no football-related events can be held outside of India. However, local transactions and the national league can both go on.
What Does Indian Football Loose From FIFA’s Suspension?
The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022, which was slated to take place from October 11–30, would not be hosted in India as a result of the suspension. It is a major setback for Indian football because India will not play any international football matches against other countries. The men’s and women’s national teams of India, along with teams at the age-group level, will be prohibited from competing in international competitions.
At the same time, Indian football clubs will be unable to compete in the AFC Women’s Club Championship, AFC Cup, and AFC Champions League tournaments. The biggest disappointment for India will be their inability to compete in the 2023 AFC Cup Qualifiers.
Even though India has already qualified for the competition, the ban would now prevent them from competing on the world stage. This will carry on until the AIFF administration regains total command and can manage the day-to-day operations of the national organization. It is important to note that FIFA’s ban would be lifted only if the order to form a Committee of Administrators (CoA) to operate as the AIFF Executive Committee is overturned.
If the ban is overturned quickly enough, the harm could be reversed. But for the time being, everything depends on how things develop and who gives ground.