From a ban on hosting international matches to competing in them as well as signing foreign players for club competitions, Indian football stares at an uncertain future after FIFA, late on Monday, suspended the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for ‘undue influence’ from third parties.
The impact of this suspension could be drastic. It’s first big blow will be losing the hosting rights of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup. “The suspension means that the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022™, scheduled to take place in India on 11-30 October 2022, cannot currently be held in India as planned,” the statement said, adding that they are ‘assessing next steps with regards to the tournament.’
If the tournament is staged elsewhere, it would put doubts over India’s participation since the country was a part of it on the virtue of being the host and not by merit.
However, FIFA has kept the door open of a quick end of suspension and still host the tournament in India.
“FIFA is assessing the next steps with regard to the tournament and will refer the matter to the Bureau of the Council if and when necessary. FIFA is in constant constructive contact with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India and is hopeful that a positive outcome to the case may still be achieved,” the statement said.
The ban will also have an impact on almost all aspects of football. The senior national team, too, could be barred from playing international matches and the fate of two friendlies next month, against Singapore and Vietnam, now is uncertain. Chief coach Igor Stimac had scheduled these matches to kick-start the team’s build-up for next year’s Asian Cup.
Not just the national teams, the clubs will not be allowed to compete in continental tournaments. Additionally, they will also be unable to sign foreign players other than those already on their rosters.
FIFA said the suspension will be lifted only when the Committee of Administrators, appointed by the Supreme Court to run the day-to-day affairs of the AIFF, is disbanded.
“The suspension will be lifted once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs,” FIFA said.
The saga began after the AIFF failed to hold elections to appoint a new president within the set timeframe, owing to a logjam in finalising its constitution. This led to the Supreme Court, in May, appointing the three-member CoA, comprising ex-Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi, former Supreme Court judge Anil Dave, and former India football captain Bhaskar Ganguly, to run the daily affairs of the AIFF while ending Patel’s term as its president. This was seen as an outside interference by FIFA, against its statutes, and risked India’s suspension, which eventually happened on Monday.