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Defiant officials leave Delhi football in turmoil

The Delhi Soccer Association elections have been pending for almost two-and-a-half years

football Updated: Sep 24, 2017 13:13 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi Soccer Association,Indian football,Delhi football
Football in Delhi has taken a hit as defiant officials overstay their terms.(HT Photo)

In less than two weeks, India will be hosting their biggest football extravaganza – the FIFA U-17 World Cup with New Delhi slated to host all of the home team’s group matches.

However, the state of the sport in the national capital and its governing body is not much to boast about. Football administration in Delhi is embroiled in multiple problems which range from lack of transparency to sexual harassment cases -- issues that have even reached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in South Block.

Documents in possession of the Hindustan Times show that all is not well in the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA), an affiliated state unit of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

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Pending elections

May 22, 2011, was the last time the DSA held its general body elections. The office bearers are supposed to hold office for a period of four years; meaning their term ended on May 21, 2015. In spite of notices sent to DSA from various government bodies, including the PMO and Registrar of Societies, the officials have held on to their seats.

The AIFF has been soft, too. Given equations that work behind the scenes, the AIFF top brass has never even shown the DSA a yellow card.

“We have communicated to them regularly and they have said that they definitely want to conduct elections,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told Hindustan Times, adding, “Initially there was some issue regarding the Returning Officer not being available but the DSA has said that they will conduct the elections. It will definitely happen this year.”

The Registrar of Societies had directed the DSA to conduct fresh elections ‘within 25 days’ on November 17, 2016. The DSA was also given a six-month period by the AIFF executive committee on September 27, 2016, to hold fresh elections. Despite agreeing, both deadlines were missed.

In its defence, the DSA said that elections were getting delayed because its units were not complying with the new constitution of the AIFF. The circular to state units to register under the Societies Act was sent on February 17, 2016. But, several deadlines were missed, thereby pushing the dates of the elections.

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Seeking justice

The state body eventually appointed former Delhi High Court judge, Justice HR Malhotra, as the election officer, who on May 22, 2017, gave DSA’s affiliated units and clubs four months to complete the formalities, following which the elections can take place.

Why this inordinate delay in staging the elections?

Insiders say DSA president Subhash Chopra, who is also a vice-president of the AIFF, is clinging on to power because he wants to be on the podium during the FIFA U-17 World Cup next month. Chopra, who will turn 70 on October 23, is an ex-Congress MLA and his good relationship with AIFF president and politician Praful Patel is no secret.

Having run Delhi’s football as its president since 2008, Chopra has overstayed his two tenures of four years each. According to the DSA constitution, Chopra should have been long gone.

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As per the country’s proposed sports code, that was tabled by former Congress sports minister Ajay Maken in 2011, 70-plus officials have no place in sports federations.

Chopra told Hindustan Times that he always welcomed elections but they were stalled due to technicalities. “There should be impartial elections and that is why we appointed Justice Malhotra. I have no interest in continuing as DSA president because of my age,” said Chopra.

The signs of change are slowly showing. The arrival of new clubs with more professional approach is making the old guard restless.

Under pressure from various quarters, the state football body’s managing committee has rescheduled a meeting on October 2 (originally September 30) to ‘declare the dates of the DSA elections’.

First Published: Sep 24, 2017 09:51 IST