FIFA Ban on AIFF: Repercussions and Plausible Solutions

FIFA’s ban on AIFF means no international football for India

Less than 24 hours after India celebrated its 75th Independence Day, the news broke that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had been banned by FIFA, on the grounds of ‘undue influence from third parties.

Ironically, the ban comes on the day when the Indian Football Top Division was due to start in the Durand Cup as Mohammedan faced off against defending champions Goa

While the statement from FIFA read that they were banning AIFF ‘with immediate effect due to flagrant violations of the FIFA Statutes’, what it basically means is that FIFA doesn’t want a third party to be handling AIFF’s affairs. 

They want the Indian football’s governing body to operate on its own, but there has been a chain of events, which led to this ban, right from the point where the Supreme Court relieved Prafful Patel of his duties as AIFF president.

According to the National Sports Conduct, Patel had already completed three four-year tenures as the AIFF supremo, and due to the fact that there was a conflict in the constitution of AIFF, the elections for the next president were not held. 

On May 18, the SC intervened and removed Patel from his post, and instilled in his place, a committee of administrators to look over the daily affairs as AIFF until a successor to Patel was elected. That’s when the FIFA ban started to loom large, because the CoA, is what FIFA sees as a third party.

What are the repercussions of the ban?

There are a lot of severe repercussions of the ban imposed by FIFA, the first and the most major one, which will hurt Indian fans is that the nation has been stripped of the rights to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which was scheduled to be held in October 2022. Only a few days ago the tickets for the tournament had gone public for sale.

Another grave impact is that there will be no international football for either the men’s Indian team or the Women’s team. That applies to senior, as well as junior sides too.

The media release stated that FIFA is in contact with the Indian government

The media release stated that FIFA is in contact with the Indian government

The ban also means all football-related activities will be impacted, in a manner where the clubs in India won’t be able to register their foreign signings. The domestic transfer window won’t be impacted, but say an ISL club hasn’t yet signed any foreign player, they might have to play the season without any overseas personnel unless the ban is lifted.

The Gokulam Kerala’s Women’s team, which was slated to play in the AFC Women’s Club Championship in Uzbekistan, won’t be able to compete there, despite being in the host nation.

ATK Mohun Bagan will not be allowed to play in the AFC Cup, and the junior national team’s participation in the AFC Cup trials is in limbo as well. 

What is the way forward?

The Supreme Court will take up the case again on August 23 after the central government of India sought an urgent hearing on the matter after FIFA’s suspension of AIFF. The hearing would make things clearer, and FIFA has been very strict in what changes need to be made within the AIFF. First things first, FIFA wants no CoA.

The Supreme Court-appointed body loses control. AIFF’s administration should take back control. Ever since Praful Patel’s ouster, Sunando Dhar has been acting as the general secretary of the AIFF, and the day-to-day affairs are looked after by a team led by him. Dhar and his administration would assume control of AIFF, should FIFA’s demands be met.

There are also factors such as the AIFF constitution’s amendment, which must be streamlined as per FIFA, AFC and the National Sports Code. The structure of the constitution and the AIFF electoral committee – who will be included, whether eminent players will be given a vote or not – all these have been sticking points as well, which will need to be addressed.