SC hits a goal on what ails football in India

The court was hearing a plea by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) against a Delhi High Court decision setting aside the election of NCP leader Praful Patel as the president of the sports body.

Salt Lake Stadium

Advocate Rahul Mehra, on whose petition the high court had set aside the election, replied that football lacks infrastructure at the grassroots level.

Football players are not well-paid, there is no inspiration unlike in cricket. While cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty, football is a game of glorious capabilities, the Supreme Court gave its take on what ails the “beautiful game” in India.

“What is the reason why football has not gone up the ranks in this country?” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, heading a three-judge Bench asked.

The court was hearing a plea by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) against a Delhi High Court decision setting aside the election of NCP leader Praful Patel as the president of the sports body.

Advocate Rahul Mehra, on whose petition the high court had set aside the election, replied that football lacks infrastructure at the grassroots level.

“The entire structure is missing. India is in the 105 position. For all the wrong reasons we have hit over a century,” Mehra responded to the Chief Justice's query.

“Tell us, how many people actually go to the stadium to watch a football match?” the Chief Justice came up with his next question to Mehra.

Without waiting for an answer, the Chief Justice said people hardly venture out to the stadium for football match “because for some reason or the other, people are more attracted to some other sport”.

Reserving its order on the AIFF plea, the court indicated on Friday that it may appoint an eminent footballer as an ombudsman, besides former Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi, to implement the Delhi High Court order for reforming the constitution of the AIFF.

AIFF had sought urgent hearing of its plea saying that the bid for hosting the FIFA Under-20 World Cup was coming up and the last date for its submission was November 14.

It had alleged “the High Court in midst of the upcoming Football season comprising of the Indian Super league and the I- Leage both starting in the month of November, 2017 and the bidding process for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup 2019 which is to be completed by 14th November 2017, has wrongly ousted the Executive Committee and stopped the smooth functioning of the Petitioner Federation (AIFF).”

Patel, a former minister of civil aviation and heavy industries, was elected for a four-year term in December last year along with the Executive Committee for 2017-2020, after the high court had, as an interim measure, vacated the stay on the polls on the ground that the result would be subject to the final outcome of the issue pending before it.

The high court had earlier directed that fresh elections should be held in accordance with the model guidelines.

                                                           AIFF STATEMENT

The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed the order of the Delhi High Court allowing all AIFF elected committees to function on a regular basis.

The Supreme Court also appointed Mr. S.Y. Qureshi, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, who has also served as Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Government of India, and Mr. Bhaskar Ganguly, former Indian Captain and International Football Player, as the ombudsmen to formulate the AIFF Constitution within eight weeks.

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