Roadmap followed, CoA tells FIFA and AFC
AIFF constitutionally governed as previous statute still in place, CoA tells Fatma Samoura and Windsor John.
The committee of administrators (CoA) running All India Football Federation (AIFF) has replied to FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) saying it has adhered to guidelines issued by them while drafting the constitution and will put in place elected office-bearers within the deadline set by FIFA-AFC.
The new executive committee, to be elected for three months, will function independently and “will not be supervised by the undersigned,” the CoA letter stated.
A copy of the CoA’s four-page letter was shared with the media on Sunday. The CoA is headed by former Supreme Court judge AR Dave with SY Quraishi, former chief election commissioner and secretary in ministry of youth affairs and sports, and Bhaskar Ganguly, former India captain, as members.
The letter sent on Saturday to Fatma Samoura, the FIFA secretary general, and Windsor John, AFC's general secretary, also said that the "previous constitution" is still in place so "AIFF stands constitutionally governed even today."
The letter from Samoura and John sent on Friday said they have been “informed” of “deviations” from the roadmap decided in June during a FIFA-AFC visit. If true, those deviations could lead to AIFF being suspended and the under-17 World Cup, scheduled from October 11-31, withdrawn from India, the letter said. It had also pointed out that according to the roadmap the constitution was to be approved by AIFF’s general body in the first week of August.
The FIFA-AFC letter had asked for the Supreme Court’s order issued on Friday to be sent by next Tuesday. CoA has sent it.
In its reply, CoA has said the Supreme Court has been “fully apprised of your (FIFA’s) concerns particularly with reference to the under-17 Women's World Cup.” The matter, CoA has said, is being treated with “the greatest seriousness, both by the Government of India and India’s highest judicial authority.”
CoA has said the constitution was submitted to the Supreme Court and AIFF affiliates on July 15. The letter listed four dates of communication between July 1 and 15 to show that CoA had “constantly kept FIFA-AFC in the loop”.
On approval of the constitution by AIFF’s members, the CoA’s letter said the affiliates were “fully represented in the proceedings in Court (sic) and have agreed to the Court (sic) issuing specific directions regarding the holding of elections.”
The affiliates (36 in all) have also approved measures for early adoption of the constitution, CoA told Samoura and John.
“…There has been nothing in writing by the Members to suggest that they have any objection. If such a missive has made its way to you, we would be happy to understand the background,” CoA has stated.
Following the court’s order, AIFF’s affiliates have said they are likely to file a review petition next week.
As per the court’s order, election would be completed by the end of August, CoA has written. September 15 is the FIFA-AFC deadline for elections.
“Thus a new and independent Executive Committee will be in place on 01.09.2022 and it is with them you will interact,” CoA has written. This is to allay FIFA and AFC’s apprehensions of third-party interference.
CoA’s letter states “no new member has been added to the AIFF, “but a players association in terms of the FIFA Statutes has been proposed”.
As per the court’s order, elections will be conducted by 36 representatives of AIFF’s state associations and 24 men and 12 women eminent players. An eminent player has been defined by the court as a footballer who has played one senior international and has retired two years before the election notification is issued. The court has asked CoA to prepare a list based on seniority.
The reply begins by saying that CoA was “surprised” that while it received the email from Samoura and John on Saturday afternoon, “we found that copies of your email have already been published in the national newspapers at considerable embarrassment to us.”
“We can understand that it has been made to appear that there has been a non-adherence to the guidelines laid down by you, but regret to say that perhaps the correct position has not been placed before you by whoever gave you the information regarding the hearing.”
CoA’s letter mentioned Praful Patel, the former AIFF president and FIFA Council member, writing to FIFA following “his removal” last May that the Supreme Court’s involvement could lead to India being suspended for third party involvement.
“It perhaps would not be appropriate for a person who has profited from presiding over Indian Football (sic) for over 16 years without any tenure or other controls to suggest that the Federation (sic) be suspended merely because he has been removed from the post he had illegally occupied.”
The AIFF executive committee headed by Patel continued till the 2022 May court order because the Supreme Court had not removed it. In 2017, staying a Delhi High Court order on the 2016 AIFF elections, the Supreme Court had said AIFF could function normally barring taking any major financial and policy decisions. The court had appointed two ombudsmen, Quraishi and Ganguly, to review the AIFF’s constitution in eight weeks. Before elections were due in 2020, AIFF had sought direction from Supreme Court but the matter was not heard till May 18, 2022.