India has 38 days to avoid international football ban They have to finalize the new constitution by July 31st. This is the biggest takeaway from a series of meetings held in New Delhi this week.
Following a meeting with the Supreme Court-appointed Administrative Committee (CoA) and state football associations on Thursday, the seven-strong joint FIFA-AFC delegation has said the new All India Football Federation (AIFF) statutes must be finalized by July 31.
The Extraordinary General Assembly of the organization must then be convened by August 5th when the date of the elections is to be finalized. The elections for the new president must take place by September 15, the international and continental bodies have said. Any deviation from these timelines could result in India being banned from world football.
The saga began after the AIFF failed to hold elections to appoint a new president within the allotted timeframe due to a standstill in finalizing its constitution. This led to the Supreme Court appointing a three-person CoA consisting of former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, former Supreme Court Justice Anil Dave and former Indian Captain Bhaskar Ganguly to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the AIFF after the finding to conduct them in violation of the Sports Code.
As a result, India risked facing action from FIFA who saw this as a violation of their statutes, but instead of imposing an immediate ban, they decided to send a delegation to the country.
Sources said that ahead of meetings, the first of which took place on Tuesday, FIFA and AFC were convinced the appointment of the CoA amounted to external interference and were on the verge of imposing a ban on India.
“However, after the meetings, they realized that the state associations were all on the same side and were happy with the CoA,” the source said. “The CoA has also given assurances that it will work with FIFA and the AFC and finalize the constitution within the set timeframe.”
It has been revealed that FIFA and AFC will monitor the drafting of the new AIFF statutes on a daily basis to ensure it is consistent with their statutes. Once finalized, the constitution must be presented to the Supreme Court by July 15, with the next hearing scheduled for July 21.
The joint delegation, led by AFC General Secretary Windsor John, concluded its three-day visit to New Delhi on Thursday. During this time, they met with Minister of Sport Anurag Thakur, the three-man CoA, former AIFF President and current FIFA Council Member Praful Patel, representatives from the AIFF and the state associations, and representatives from the country’s two top divisions, the Indian Super League and I-League.
Finalizing the constitution and conducting elections are not the only issues AIFF is currently dealing with. It has been revealed that a forensic examination of the association’s accounts is likely to take place after allegations of corruption against its officials surfaced.
On the eve of the FIFA AFC visit, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das went on “medical leave” and on Thursday, AIFF member associations unanimously appointed Sunando Dhar, CEO of the I-League, as acting General Secretary.