The world’s football governing body, FIFA has announced that it has suspended India due to ‘influence from third parties’ and mentioned that the U-17 Women’s World Cup will not take place in the country under current circumstances.
India was to host the significant FIFA event from October 11-30, 2022. For the first time in 85 years of history, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been banned by FIFA.
As per FIFA’s statement, “The Bureau of the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to suspend the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes.
“The suspension will be lifted once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs. The suspension means that the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022, scheduled to take place in India on 11-30 October 2022, cannot currently be held in India as planned. FIFA is assessing the next steps with regard to the tournament and will refer the matter to the Bureau of the Council if and when necessary.”
A ban on India was considered after the Supreme Court stripped away Praful Patel as AIFF president for not organizing elections which were due in December 2020.
The court had later ordained a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) to oversee the proceedings of the national federation, led by former Supreme Court judge AR Dave.
The CoA also includes former Chief Commissioner of India SY Quraishi and ex-India captain Bhaskar Ganguly.
The FIFA has never permitted any third party, be it the nation’s topmost court or ruling government, to intrude in the matters of its association. In this case, both got involved.
A ray of hope for Indian football fans here is that FIFA also mentioned that it is in contact with the sports ministry on the matter.
“FIFA is in constant constructive contact with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India and is hopeful that a positive outcome to the case may still be achieved,” it said.
In the aftermath of the ban, the destiny of the AIFF elections which is scheduled for August 28 on Supreme Court orders, is unknown.
The polling practice began on August 13 when the Supreme Court authorised the timetable planned by the CoA. The CoA has indeed named returning officers and authored the electoral college for the elections, which includes 36 prominent players. Nominations will be accepted from Wednesday to Friday.
When the Supreme Court notices the case on Wednesday, India’s football community is hoping for a last-minute remedy to save the FIFA under-17 women’s world cup.
Meanwhile, Indian football will continue to play, with no changes to its friendly matches. To put it in context, Sunil Chhetri, the world’s third highest active goal scorer, will continue to play for India, but his goals will no longer be counted against Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.