Sports code: Time running out for federations
The union sports ministry has reportedly set June 30 as the deadline for all federation to comply with provisions of its sports code
Indian sports federations are staring at uncertain times. Three top federations (football, hockey and table tennis) were recently brought under Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) for various violations, while a majority of the bodies face the risk of de-recognition for not complying with the National Sports Code that aims to usher in transparency and accountability in their functioning.
The Delhi high court, which is hearing a petition filed in 2020 by lawyer Rahul Mehra over the breach of the sport code by NSF’s, has said federation that don’t fall in line would not be entitled to receive government grants. The Court had on January 22 last year directed the union sports ministry to ensure compliance on all aspects of the code.
The ministry has been extending the recognition of bodies, on condition that NSFs ‘take immediate steps for necessary amendments in their constitution/byelaws’ and comply with the code. However, the courts might be running out of patience.
It is learnt the ministry in its last meeting with NSFs had given June 30 as the deadline to comply with provisions of the sports code. The ministry’s compliance status filed in the Delhi high court on November 11 presented a startling picture. Of the 59 recognised NSFs, 44 submitted amended constitutions and “on examination, it was found that only six were compliant with the Sports Code.” Also, most NSFs did not meet the “mandatory 25% representation of sportspersons in the managing committee.”
Since then, many federations have amended their constitution. Still, there are areas like voting rights in states and union territories, affiliations for 50% districts in a state, grievance redressal mechanism for athletes, restriction on holding office in more than one NSF, athletes commission, life member, ethics commission, committee for prevention of sexual harassment of women that need to be addressed.
Hockey India’s constitution was shown as ‘by and large compliant with the Sports Code’ but it was placed under CoA by the Delhi High Court in a separate case for violating provisions. The court observed that its constitution was not in line with the sports code and posts of life president, life member and CEO in the managing committee are illegal.
“Most federations have accepted the sports code and there are just minor issues to be implemented. It is a matter of interpretation but what is happening now should not happen. Federations should be allowed to function independently and not keep on fighting court cases,” said a senior federation official, who did not wish to be identified.
Another NSF official said there are areas where sports code applicability is ‘ambiguous’ at the state and district levels. “The ministry and federations are not at loggerheads and federations that are pro-actively hosting competitions, national camps, sending teams for foreign exposure trips etc should not suffer.”
The Indian Olympic Association’s constitution itself is under scrutiny over sports code compliance and its elections are on hold since December. In the year of Commonwealth Games with the postponed Asian Games to follow possibly next year, Indian sports finds itself in deep trouble.
The Delhi high court’s next hearing is on Thursday.