“The Bureau of the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to suspend the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes,” FIFA said in a statement released on Tuesday.
FIFA decided after the Indian Supreme Court appointed a committee to take over the affairs of the AIFF because Praful Patel failed to conduct an election after the expiration of his tenure in 2020.
In June, FIFA, alongside the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), visited India to discuss the situation of the AIFF. At the end of the meeting, FIFA directed the body to rectify leadership issues within the association.
“The meetings concluded that the next steps should be the ratification of the AIFF Statutes in line with FIFA/AFC principles of good governance and the holding of an electoral congress to choose the next AIFF leadership. This would be based on a timeline agreed by AIFF stakeholders,” FIFA said after the meeting in June.
Two months later, FIFA had suspended India completely, which means the country is no longer a footballing nation, at least for now.
Effects of the Suspension
In a letter by FIFA to its member associations, the world’s football governing body said: “The AIFF representative and club teams are no longer eligible to participate in international competitions until the lifting of the suspension.”
In other words, until the suspension is lifted, the Indian national teams are no longer eligible to play football matches with any other country, except those that are not under the control of FIFA.
“This also means that neither the AIFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programs, courses, or training from FIFA and/or the AFC. Moreover, we would remind you and your affiliates not to enter into any sporting contact with the AIFF and/or its teams while the AIFF is suspended,” Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s Secretary-general, added in the letter.
The Under 17 World Cup
According to FIFA’s arrangement, the women’s under 17 world cup is scheduled to hold from October 11-30 in India. With the country’s suspension, FIFA said it is no longer eligible to host the competition.
“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. FIFA is assessing the next steps concerning the tournament and will refer the matter to the Bureau of the Council if and when necessary,” FIFA said, adding that the Association is hopeful for a positive outcome to the case.
FIFA went on to assure the footballing world that all the suspensions would be lifted once the AIFF resolves its leadership crises.
“The suspension will be lifted once an order sets 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 added.
The AIFF says the Decision is Unfortunate
In response to FIFA’s decision, the Committee of Administrators (COA), which is charged with the responsibility to manage the affairs of the AIFF, said it was disappointed with FIFA’s decision.
“It is unfortunate to see such a directive by FIFA during a time when all efforts were being made to put Indian Football back on the right track,” CoA chairman Justice (retd.) Anil Dave said.
“It is really deplorable that for almost [the] last two years, the body, whose term had already been completed, had continued in an absolutely undemocratic and illegal manner, no action was taken,” the CoA chairman continued, adding that FIFA’s suspension came at a time when CoA was trying to rectify all the leadership issues within the AIFF.