FIFA-AFC team to hold talks with stakeholders of Indian football from Wednesday

The joint team is expected to meet the members of the CoA, former AIFF president Praful Patel - who is also a FIFA Council member - and the representatives of the state associations.

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: A member of the three-member CoA, S Y Quraishi, had said that he did not see non-compliance as an issue with FIFA.   -  REUTERS

A joint team of the FIFA and AFC will meet various stakeholders of Indian football from Wednesday to discuss the way forward on holding the long-pending elections of the national federation at the earliest under an amended constitution.

During the talks with the stakeholders, including the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), the visiting delegation is likely to emphasize having a time frame regarding the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) elections and compliance of its statutes in the amended constitution.

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The team, to be led by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary Datuk Seri Windsor John, will have two members from FIFA in Kenny Jean Marie, who is chief member associations officer, and Nodar Akhalkatsi, the director strategic projects and member association governance.

The AFC's deputy general secretary Vahid Kardany, its South Asia Unit (development and member association governance) head Parushottam Kattel and senior manager of Central Asia unit Yogesh Desai, are the other members of the joint team that is arriving here on Monday night.

The joint team is expected to meet the members of the CoA, former AIFF president Praful Patel - who is also a FIFA Council member - and the representatives of the state associations.

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The team is also likely to meet Sports Minister Anurag Thakur before leaving the country on June 23.

World football governing body FIFA did not impose an immediate ban on India after the Supreme Court removed the Patel-led dispensation and appointed the CoA to run the affairs of the AIFF. But, a top official of a state association said it's not going to be easy going forward and FIFA is going to set conditions, failing which the country can be banned.

"The FIFA-AFC team will listen to the various stakeholders. They are not going to say that we are going to ban India. It (the ban) is unlikely to happen in the coming days," the state official told PTI.

"At the same time, the FIFA-AFC team will set some conditions, tough conditions. If these conditions are not met, India can be banned.

"It will want to know the time frame of AIFF elections, a tentative date. Also, any amended constitution (of AIFF) should comply generally with FIFA statutes. I feel the visiting team will also point out that some provisions of the Sports Code are impractical." The visiting team will meet the representatives of the state associations on Wednesday.

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A FIFA ban would be disastrous for India which has recently qualified for the next Asian Cup. The country is also hosting the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in October, a tournament which will be shifted out of India if it's banned.

A member of the three-member CoA, S Y Quraishi, had said that he did not see non-compliance as an issue with FIFA.

"I don't think FIFA would have an objection to this development. Football elections were long overdue, the erstwhile team had stayed on past its tenure and elections were necessary. I don’t see a noncompliance issue with FIFA here," he had said.

"We hope that FIFA will understand and cooperate and we will cooperate with them as we try to finish this task given to us by the court." 

As per the timeline set by the court, a draft AIFF constitution prepared by the CoA in line with the National Sports Code must be circulated among the stakeholders and their feedback sent to CoA counsel Samar Bansal by June 30.

The CoA must place the constitution before SC by July 15. The next hearing is on July 21. 

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