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once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs.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. 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.
The spectre of a FIFA ban had been hanging over AIFF since 18 May when the Supreme Court forced out Praful Patel as AIFF president for not holding elections due in December 2020 and appointed a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), headed by former top court judge AR Dave, to manage the organisation’s affairs. The CoA also had to frame AIFF’s constitution in line with the National Sports Code and model guidelines.
As per FIFA Statutes, member federations should not be subject to legal and political interference in their respective countries.
Despite SC’s interference, FIFA did not ban India and instead sent a joint FIFA/Asian Football Confederation (AFC) mission to monitor the situation in Indian football. The mission ended its three-day visit on 23 June. The mission concluded 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.”
A draft constitution of the AIFF prepared by the CoA was submitted to the Supreme Court on 16 July. The constitution provided for 50 per cent (36) eminent player representation in the electoral college of the AIFF and the executive council. The state units oppose certain clauses of the draft constitution and the matter reaches the SC.
Meanwhile, FIFA termed the decision to have an equal number of eminent players alongside the state association representatives in the electoral college as “not a prudent idea”. It also said that the governing body is okay with the executive committee having 25 per cent of former players as Co-opted members.
On 3 August, SC passed an interim order for AIFF to hold its election as soon as possible with the results being declared by 28 or 29 August. It also approved forming an electoral college made up of 36 representatives of state football associations and 36 eminent former football players.
On 6 August, FIFA threatened to suspend the AIFF due to a third-party “influence”.
On 15 August, once against FIFA informed the Indian sports ministry that it is in opposition to individual members’ inclusion in the electoral college for the upcoming AIFF elections. FIFA said that the individual members of the electoral college should come from the state associations and other entities.
On 16 August, FIFA officially suspended AIFF with “immediate effect due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes.”
What is FIFA’s decision on India hosting the U-17 Women’s World Cup?
As a suspended member, India cannot hold the World Cup that is to take place 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 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,” FIFA said in its statement.
However, if the ban gets lifted in time for the tournament, India could still host the World Cup.
When and how the suspension will be lifted?
FIFA is very clear on what needs to be done for the AIFF suspension to be lifted.
“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,” FIFA pointed out.
In other words, once AIFF adheres completely to the FIFA Statutes, the suspension will be lifted.
How will the FIFA suspension impact Indian football?
The FIFA suspension will have a wide-ranging impact on Indian football. Apart from losing the hosting rights to U-17 Women’s World Cup, the national teams will not be able to play in international matches. Even Indian clubs will not be allowed to participate in continental tournaments.
The men’s team is scheduled to play Singapore and Vietnam next month but those matches are now uncertain. The senior women’s team cannot take part in the SAFF Women’s Championship next month, while Gokulam Kerala FC will not be able to take part in the AFC Women’s Club Championship next week.