New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to elect an executive committee by September so that an elected body can, as per the requirement of international football federation (FIFA) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC), host the Under-17 Women's World Cup, which India is scheduled to host in October this year.
An elected executive committee is also necessary for the national football team to participate in FIFA and AFC events.
While passing the order on August 3, the apex court made two key observations -- firstly, the inclusion of eminent footballers in the AIFF management by directing the general body to be formed by 36 state association members and 36 players, both male and female, and secondly that the elections should be held in accordance with the National Sports Code and Article 26 of the draft constitution, which provides for a fixed tenure and age limit of the office-bearers.
The order provides an opportunity to pump in fresh blood in the AIFF administration. Former players like Kalyan Chaubey, Bhaichung Bhutia, I.M. Vijayan and administrators like Saji Prabhakaran of Delhi Football Association, Manvendra Singh of Rajasthan Football Association, N.A. Haris of Karnataka State Football Association can contest the upcoming elections of the federation if they want to.
Kalyan Chaubey, former India goalkeeper and a party in the case, welcomed the decision by saying that he has been fighting for the cause of footballers for long and now his views have been vindicated.
Chaubey had told IANS earlier, "I demanded two things. One, according to the National Sports Code, the way AIFF is being run currently is not as per the rules. AIFF should follow the Supreme Court judgment in this regard, i.e., hold proper elections to run the committee.
"Secondly, the AIFF has put a very strange condition that if anybody wants to contest the federation's elections, he or she has to hold a position in a state association for at least four years."
Speaking to IANS on Friday, Chaubey, winner of three SAFF Championships, said, "What I had asked is that if a former footballer wants to contest the elections, he should be given a chance even if he doesn't fulfil the above criterion. This is because it is football for whose benefit this committee is there, and a former footballer can be a part of it."
Prabhakaran, president of Delhi Football Association, refrained from making any comment on the issue of office-bearers of the federation, who are holding posts for 12 years or more, being barred from contesting the election.
"At the moment I do not have the Supreme Court order in my hand, hence I don't want to make any comment," he told IANS.
When asked if he will contest the elections, Manvendra Singh, president, Rajasthan Football Association, told IANS, "What is important is we stay together and take the football of the country back to its glorious days of 1960s. I also want to say that good people should run the federation, whether they are eminent players or good administrators."