‘CoA must cease to exist from today’, Centre to SC on FIFA suspension of AIFF

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the committee of administrators (CoA), managing the affairs of All India Football Federation (AIFF), must cease to exist from this day and also proposed 25 per cent of the elected executive committee should have eminent players.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that the result of suspension for AIFF is disastrous and “we will lose the right to host the World Cup. None of our players can play international football in any part of the world”.

Mehta said the two returning officers appointed by CoA be deemed as the returning officers appointed by apex court and also proposed 25 per cent of the elected executive committee should have eminent players.

To address FIFA’s suspension of the AIFF, Mehta suggested that CoA should cease to exist forthwith and administration be carried out by the secretary general, who is already there till the August 28 elections, after which a new management body will come.

Mehta, insisting on finding a way out, said the government tried to examine if India was being discriminated against in the matter, but FIFA has a uniform policy, and added that there are some 18 suspension orders across the world and India is not being singled out.

On the role of Bhaichung Bhutia, Mehta said the Central government is considering a much larger role for him than what he is aiming now, and said Bhutia for football is like Sachin Tendulkar for cricket. Bhutia, ex-Indian captain, moved the apex court seeking adoption of draft AIFF constitution of CoA saying it prioritizes and promotes welfare and participation of present and former players, over vested interests who are controlling the affairs for many decades. The hearing is in progress in the apex court.

On August 3, the Supreme Court directed that the interim executive committee for AIFF would be elected not only by 36 state football federations, but also by 36 eminent former football players — 24 male and 12 female players who played international matches for the country.

The apex court directed the CoA to conduct AIFF elections expeditiously as per the timeline laid down by the CoA and in consonance with the football federation’s draft constitution.

The top court clarified that the elected committee would be an interim body, which would continue for a period of three months subject to further orders. The top court asked CoA to hold the election expeditiously to ensure that the Under 17 Women’s World cup is managed by an elected body.

The Women’s World Cup Tournament will commence on October 11, 2022 and India will host it. The top court decided to expedite the election as FIFA requires a democratically elected body of AIFF to oversee the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.

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