A delegation of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rejected an advisory committee named by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), citing interference in the working of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), after which the panel was disbanded.
The seven-member joint delegation met the three CoA members – former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi, retired Supreme Court judge AR Dave and former India captain Bhaskar Ganguly – on Tuesday, the first day of their visit.
It is learnt that senior AIFF officials objected to the appointment of the committee and the joint delegation agreed that it would interfere with the working of the federation, which would be in violation of FIFA statutes.
CoA meets FIFA-AFC team 🤝
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) June 21, 2022
On Monday, a notification had been issued by the CoA, in which entrepreneur Ranjit Bajaj was named as the chairman of the 12-member advisory team that will ‘assist’ the Supreme Court-appointed CoA in running the federation. Bajaj will also be looking after the ‘integrity matters’ of the AIFF, it was announced.
While the committee will not be eligible for any remuneration, they will ‘oversee the day-to-day matters of various departments of the AIFF and send regular reports to all the members of the CoA’, according to a circular.
However, Bajaj’s appointment as the chairman of the advisory panel to the CoA had ruffled many feathers within the old establishment of the AIFF. It is learnt that a section of the federation was unhappy with the idea of having an advisory committee in the first place, and Bajaj’s selection as the chairman in particular.
Coincidently, on the same day as the Bajaj-led committee was announced, Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary, ‘proceeded on leave on account of his health issues’, according to the federation’s statement. Last month, Bajaj accused Das of sexually harassing AIFF employees and indulging in corruption. Das has denied both charges.
The FIFA-AFC joint delegation is led by AFC general secretary Datuk Seri Windsor John. Is joined by three others from the confederation – deputy general secretary Vahid Kardany, head of South Asia unit Purushottam Kattel and senior manager of the Central Asia unit Yogesh Desai.
PTI adds that the first round of talks between the two sides has “gone off well” and the world body is unlikely to impose a ban on the country, according to well-placed sources.
However, nothing is official as of now and a final picture on what FIFA may do or recommend could come only after the second round of talks that the visiting officials will have with the CoA members on Thursday, before they leave the country.
“It was a very good and constructive meeting. The meeting had gone off very well. Both sides were happy with the outcome of today’s meeting,” a top source involved in the whole process said on conditions of anonymity.
“The sense from today’s meeting was that both FIFA and CoA are on the same page on almost all the issues. We can say there is agreement on the core issues. I don’t see FIFA imposing a ban on India as of now.”
The source said one of the main takeaways from Tuesday’s meeting was that the AIFF elections should be held before the end of September.
India will host the FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup in October. If the elections are held by the end of September, the new office-bearers can take charge in time for the tournament.
It is learnt that there are still some 7-8 “points of disagreement” for which the two sides will need to sit together again and sort them out after the visiting team meets the state associations on Wednesday to also know their views.
It was also understood that the CoA can be flexible on these “points of disagreement” and the committee is willing to “work around them” to find an amicable solution for the good of all stakeholders, according to the source.
The visiting team also met ousted AIFF chief Praful Patel, who is also a member of the powerful FIFA Council. It is also expected to call on sports minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday.
The team will also meet the representatives of Indian Super League and I-League clubs, besides officials of ISL organisers FSDL on Thursday.