Why FIFA banned AIFF: A timeline, from Praful’s exit to removal of U17 Women’s World Cup

FIFA temporarily suspended AIFF for “third party intervention”, stripping it off hosting rights for the U17 Women’s World Cup set to happen in October 2022.

Federation International de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of world football, banned the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on August 16.

Federation International de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of world football, banned the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on August 16. | Photo Credit:

FIFA temporarily suspended AIFF for “third party intervention”, stripping it off hosting rights for the U17 Women’s World Cup set to happen in October 2022.

Federation International de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of world football, banned the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on August 16 citing ‘third party’ intervention.

“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,” read the official statement.

“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once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs.”

The suspension jeopardises the country’s chance to host the U-17 Women’s World Cup, which was supposed to be held from October 11-30 later this year.

What is this third party interference FIFA has noted?

Simply put, FIFA sees the court-appointed committee of administrators having a say in the running of Indian football as third party interference.

FIFA says it’s “not a prudent idea” to have equal number of eminent players alongside the state association representatives in the electoral college. The draft constitution submitted by the CoA to the Supreme Court states the electoral college will have representatives from 36 state associations and 36 eminent football players from all over India — 24 male and 12 female. The world body is okay with the executive committee having 25 per cent former players as Co-opted members.

Incidentally, Wednesday is the last date to file nominations for the AIFF president’s post. Also, there will be a Supreme Court hearing in the ongoing matter on Wednesday.

Here’s a look at the timeline of the events that led to the suspension.

Former AIFF chief Praful Patel

Former AIFF chief Praful Patel | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

May 18, 2022

The Supreme Court of India relieves Praful Patel and his executive committee from their responsibilities and appoints a Committee of Administrators (CoA) to oversee the functioning of the AIFF – one that is also responsible to draft the constitution for the same body.

Patel had completed his three terms and 12 years as AIFF president in December 2020, the maximum permitted to a national sports federation chief under the Sports Code, but the polls could not take place because of pending cases in the Supreme Court regarding its constitution.

May 29, 2022

CoA member, Dr S. Y. Qureshi, says a new AIFF constitution will be in place by the end of September.

June 11, 2022

The CoA and members of some affiliated units meet to discuss the way forward on holding the elections of the AIFF at the earliest under an amended constitution adhering to the national sports code, FIFA and AFC Statutes.

RELATED | AIFF Elections: COA, affiliated units meet to discuss way forward on AIFF’s new constitution and elections

June 21, 2022

The first round of talks between the visiting FIFA-AFC team and the CoA "goes off well".

It appoints a 12-member advisory committee to oversee the day-to-day matters of various departments of the AIFF. The advisory committee will send regular reports to all the members of the CoA for their information and approvals if required.

June 23, 2022

After three days of meetings, FIFA leaves with an assurance of completing the new constitution by July 31 and the election process by the end of September.

July 6, 2022

The CoA meets the seven-member committee, representing State Associations of the AIFF to discuss various aspects of and suggestions on the draft constitution.

The Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court of India | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

July 16, 2022

The final draft constitution of the AIFF, framed by the CoA, is submitted to the Supreme Court for its approval.

July 18, 2022

The state units of the AIFF express unhappiness with several provisions in the final draft constitution. Still, they say they are ready to “find a middle ground” to avoid a FIFA ban.

The state associations, represented by a seven-member panel, had written to the FIFA that several clauses of the final draft constitution, prepared by the CoA, were discriminatory and illogical.

RELATED | AIFF’s unhappy state associations ready to find “middle ground”

July 21, 2022

The Supreme Court hears pleas from the CoA for AIFF and State Associations on differences in the proposed constitution and directs all parties to file objections if any, by 25 July.

It sets the date for the next hearing to July 28, to discuss the draft constitution and ratify it on the same day to pave the way for elections for the national football body.

July 26, 2022

FIFA recommends AIFF to have 25 per cent eminent player representation in its Executive Committee as co-opted members instead of the 50 per cent stipulated in the draft constitution by CoA.

July 28, 2022

The Supreme Court of India postpones the hearing on AIFF elections to August 3, keeping hosting of the Women’s Under-17 World Cup as a priority.

Justice DY Chandrachud, one of the sitting justices on the case, says though the court will not be able to finalise the entire committee, it can issue directions for the elections.

August 3, 2022

The Supreme Court passes an interim order asking the AIFF to hold and conclude elections for its executive committee as expeditiously as possible and well in time for the Women’s Under-17 World Cup which will be played in India in October 2022.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud agrees to a 27-day time election schedule prepared by the CoA — represented by senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan — which manages the affairs of the AIFF.

According to the schedule, the election results would be declared on August 28/29, 2022.

The Supreme Court directs the holding of elections to the executive committee of the AIFF by forming an Electoral College made up of 36 representatives of state football associations and 36 eminent former football players.

RELATED | Hold AIFF elections at the earliest: Supreme Court

August 6, 2022

FIFA threatens to suspend the AIFF and strip off its rights to host the Women’s U-17 World Cup in October due to a third-party “influence.”

August 7, 2022

The CoA reassures FIFA after the threat that it is on course to set the AIFF in order, while slamming its ousted president Praful Patel for his references to the suspension of the national body.

August 10, 2022

The CoA moves the Supreme Court seeking contempt of court action against the body’s former president Praful Patel and several office bearers of state football associations for “interfering with the administration of justice” while accusing them of attempting to defeat the purpose of the Supreme Court’s supervision of the football federation through the Committee of Administrators.

August 13, 2022

Veteran administrators Subrata Dutta and Larsing Ming’s nominations ahead of the AIFF’s elections are rejected by the poll’s returning officer, Umesh Sinha.

Both of them have been on the AIFF executive committee for three terms previously, making them ineligible to contest for any post for the next four, as per a clause in the National Sports Code.

RELATED | AIFF elections: Subrata Dutta, Larsing Ming’s nominations rejected by returning officer

August 15, 2022

FIFA informs the Indian sports ministry that it remains firm in its opposition to individual members’ inclusion in the electoral college for the upcoming All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) elections.

Although we agree that players’ voice needs to be heard, we are also of the view that the importance of the existing members of the AIFF should not be undermined. To bring in 50 per cent of the members in the Congress structure ... is not a prudent idea, and the AIFF should seek to be more diverse in future

—   FIFA had said in a letter in mid-July.

August 16, 2022

FIFA officially suspends AIFF, meaning the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022, scheduled to take place on 11-30 October 2022, cannot currently be held in the country as planned.

August 16, 2022

The Centre makes an urgent request in the Supreme Court for an early hearing even as reports emerged that FIFA has suspended the All India Football Federation (AIFF), leaving the prospects of India hosting the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in October bleak.

August 17, 2022

Supreme Court postpones the matter to Monday (August 22) on Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s request and requests the Union of India to take proactive measures to ensure holding of the women’s U17 world cup and lifting the suspension on AIFF so the objective is duly achieved.

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