No grand promises, but we’ll take Indian football ahead: New AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey

Kalyan Chaubey emerged as the new AIFF president with a landslide win over Bhaichung Bhutia, on Friday.

Left to Right - Newly elected AIFF Treasurer Mr Kipa Ajay, President Mr Kalyan Chaubey and Vice President Mr NA Haris at the Football House after the elections.

Left to Right - Newly elected AIFF Treasurer Mr Kipa Ajay, President Mr Kalyan Chaubey and Vice President Mr NA Haris at the Football House after the elections. | Photo Credit: AIFF Media

Kalyan Chaubey emerged as the new AIFF president with a landslide win over Bhaichung Bhutia, on Friday.

In a sombre briefing to the press, Kalyan Chaubey refrained from making grand promises about Indian football but said his administration will not hesitate to take help from anyone for the betterment of the game.

“Football ought to be run democratically in a democratic nation, and with the help of the government and the order of the Supreme Court, elections were held today, and victory gained. We assure you that we will try to take Indian football forward with the help of all territories,” he said.

Chaubey said he wasn’t going to make “unrealistic goals” as they may not be realised, and that the “roadmap” for Indian football will be discussed only in 100 days’ time, after consultations with various stakeholders.

Kalyan Chaubey is the first former footballer to become the president of the All India Football Federation. Here are 10 things you should know about the former goalkeeper and BJP member.

“We will never say that we have made an academy and that we will play the World Cup in eight years. In my life, I have attended the opening ceremonies of at least 100 academies. All those academies said that the kids there would play the World Cup in eight years’ time. But this hasn’t happened in reality. So I’m making no such commitments to you. But yes, we will state that we will take Indian football ahead,” Chaubey said.

My identity is first as a football player, nobody will deny that.

—  Kalyan Chaubey on allegations of politicak influence on AIFF elections

Chaubey revealed that he had a chat on the phone with FIFA president Gianni Infantino who had requested to meet him in Zurich, Paris, or Doha.

Chaubey agreed to do so only after determining what demands can be made of the world governing body. “When FIFA president said that they want to work with India, I said I wouldn’t meet you now. I would meet FIFA’s SAFF representative and the AFC representative so that we also understand what FIFA can give us,” Chaubey said.

Bhaichung Bhutia, the rival candidate for the post of president, left the venue early after expressing his disappointment at the defeat. Chaubey appreciated Bhaichung’s achievements as a player and said he would welcome his advice and help in administration and other matters.

Even though he refused to discuss policy matters, Chaubey did indicate expanding football in the grassroots would be the priority during his tenure. “The base of a pyramid is wide. We will start with 100,000 kids so that our top 11 players are the best players in our country,” he said.

Responding to allegations of political interference in the elections, he said, “Name me a federation – whether it’s a State federation or a national federation – where there is no involvement of the State government or the central government or any politician. My identity is first as a football player, nobody will deny that.”

He said “time will tell” whether the administration under him can carry out its functions without undue interference.

‘Other interests prevailed’

Manvendra Singh contested the elections for the post of AIFF vice-president, and lost to N. A. Haris. He said there was a lot of political influence in the elections and that the State associations buckled under pressure.

“I'm deeply upset that Indian football, administrators, the members of associations did not exercise their judgment in the interest of football but other interests prevailed. And when they had a choice of selecting the best player available, they didn't exercise that judgment and they came under somebody else's influence [despite the fact that] the associations had had a meeting earlier in which [they claimed] they would not come under anybody's influence,” Manvendra said.

Election Results:
AIFF president: Kalyan Chaubey beat Bhaichung Bhutia (33-1)
AIFF vice-president: N. A. Haris beat Manvendra Singh (29-5)
AIFF treasurer: Kipa Ajay beat Gopalkrishna Kosaraju (32-1)
AIFF Secretary General: Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran
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