In an unprecedented move, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) on Tuesday banned All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect citing “undue influence” from third parties. “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 world football governing body said in a statement.
In 85 years of its existence as football governing body in the country, AIFF has been banned for the first time.
An immediate fallout of the ban on AIFF is that India would not be able to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 in October. “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 added in the statement.
However, the international football governing body hoped that a positive outcome may still be achieved as it is in constant constructive contact with India’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
The ban is the culmination of a series of events following Praful Patel’s ouster from AIFF by the Supreme Court on 18 May this year. While showing the former AIFF boss the door for not conducting elections to the football administration body since 2020, the apex court appointed a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), headed by former Supreme Court judge AR Dave, to frame AIFF’s constitution in line with the National Sports Code and model guidelines and conduct elections to the body.
FIFA Statutes mandate that member federations should not be subject to legal and political interference in their respective countries. However, FIFA did not ban India after the Supreme Court took over the case and appointed CoA. The world body sent a joint team of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to monitor the situation in Indian football. Concluding its three-day visit on 23 June, the mission stated that the “next steps should be the ratification of the AIFF Statutes in line with the FIFA/AFC principles of good governance and the holding of an Electoral Congress to choose the next AIFF leadership.”
However, the world body did not agree on the inclusion of co-opted members as provisioned in AIFF’s draft constitution, and even though negotiations were going on the thorny issues, FIFA suspended the Indian football body.
Expressing shock over the suspension, CoA chairman Justice (retd.) Dave said in a statement, “It is unfortunate to see such a directive by FIFA during a time when all efforts were being made to put Indian Football back on the right track. That being said, we are constantly in talks with all the stakeholders, including FIFA, to find the correct solution to this situation, and get the ball rolling once again.”
The FIFA wants the Supreme Court-appointed CoA repealed before it lifts the ban.