Bhaichung Bhutia moves Supreme Court, opposes centre’s view to accept FIFA terms for AIFF elections

Bhaichung Bhutia filed the petition just a day after the Indian government accepted FIFA’s demand to remove CoA from AIFF.

Published : Aug 22, 2022 11:04 IST

Bhaichung Bhutia filed his nomination for the election of the post of AIFF president last week.
Bhaichung Bhutia filed his nomination for the election of the post of AIFF president last week. | Photo Credit: Stan Rayan

Bhaichung Bhutia filed his nomination for the election of the post of AIFF president last week. | Photo Credit: Stan Rayan

Former India captain and one of the most celebrated names among the country’s footballers, Bhaichung Bhutia submitted an intervention application in the Supreme Court seeking to draw attention to the “much-needed reforms within the All India Football Federation.”

Just as the Supreme Court heard the petitions pertaining to the election of the executive committee of AIFF on Monday, Bhutia’s the application was also placed. The former India captain urged the Apex court to adopt the draft constitution finalized by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) as it promoted the welfare of the players over the vested interests of those who have been controlling Indian football over the years. Bhutia asked the Supreme Court to stick to its earlier order despite the objections from the world governing body of football – FIFA – which had suspended the AIFF citing third-party intervention in its functioning.

“Hosting the under-17 women’s World Cup is important but for that tournament, we cannot ignore the reforms in the long run that were being ushered in by drafting of the new constitution,” Bhutia told  Sportstar while explaining his move to submit the intervention application. “If you look at the history of independent India we have not seen any eminent player leading any federation and the Supreme Court’s decision to have 50 per cent of former India players in the electoral college was a step forward towards that direction,” Bhutia said.

The Supreme Court directive on Monday reset the election process in line with the requirement of FIFA seeing the scrapping of the CoA and the removal of 36 eminent players from the electoral college. “I am now hoping the new constitution that will be finalised after the completion of the U-17 tournament will give the rightful place to the former players, who are one of the most important stakeholders in football’s administration,” Bhutia said.

The removal of the players from the voting process will also see the former India captain dropping out of the race of the AIFF presidency. “My name was proposed by two former India players Dipak Mondal and Madhu Kumari but now that the players are out of the electoral college my candidature would not be counted,” Bhutia said adding that he opted to

file for the president’s post only as a representative of the former players. “I wanted the players to be counted as able administrators and stood up for their voices to be heard. Now with the situation having changed, I have not decided on the future course of action.”

On Sunday, the returning officer of the elections, scheduled on August 28, rejected the candidature of Valanka Alemao and Manvendra Singh after their respective seconders denied having signed any nomination paper.

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