What AIFF can learn from Pakistan’s mistakes and prevent FIFA ban
AIFF's current predicament is very similar to the Pakistan Football Federation in 2015, before it got banned by FIFA.
Climbing up to the top 100s in the FIFA rankings for the first time in two decades, going on an eight-match winning streak, qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, and even hosting the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup. These are some of the giant steps taken by Indian football over the course of the year.
However, all of these giant leaps could end up counting for very little, if the All India Football Federation (AIFF) ends up getting banned by FIFA.
The last week or so has been a torrid time for Indian football, after AIFF president Praful Patel was removed from his position by the Delhi High Court, which appointed former Chief Election Commissioner YS Quraishi to oversee the AIFF’s operations, till Indian football federation holds its elections in accordance with the National Sports Code.
While this may have seem to be a positive step, it could end up negating all the actual positive steps taken by Indian football over the last couple of years.
In the recent past, FIFA had imposed bans on three football federations – Guatemala, Kuwait, and Pakistan.
While the Guatemala federation (FEDEFUT) had not brought their operations and elections in line with the FIFA guidelines, the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) had been banned due to government interference.
While neither of the cases are similar to the predicament that the AIFF is currently facing, the fact that their operations are currently being overseen by a court-appointed representative, could also be construed by the FIFA as third-party interference (or legal interference in this case).
The problem with the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) started when Faisal Saleh Hayat was appointed as the president in 2015. Hayat’s appointment was followed by allegations of vote-rigging, which essentially led to the PFF’s downfall.
A high court-appointed administrator soon took over the reins of the PFF’s operations and accounts, which led to the FIFA ban being imposed on the federation.
"The Bureau [of the Fifa Council] took this decision as a result of the fact that the PFF offices and its accounts remain in control of a court-appointed administrator, which constitutes a violation of the PFF obligations to manage its affairs independently and without influence from any third parties in accordance with the FIFA Statutes," said FIFA in a statement.
Former AIFF chief Praful Patel was, like Hayat, removed from his court by the Delhi HC. And just like the PFF back in 2015, the AIFF is also currently under the supervision of a court-appointed administrator – YS Quraishi.
The the situation faced by PFF in 2015, and the current predicament faced by the AIFF bares striking similarities, and this is something that could eventually lead to the Indian football federation being banned.
Should the AIFF be banned, we could all see Indian football going back to the dark ages, as teams from the country will no more be able to play in international tournaments.
However, the Delhi HC has made provisions for fresh transparent elections to be held within the next five months, something that could deter the FIFA ban, if things go smoothly. There’s a lot riding on this AIFF election. So let’s hope for the sake of Indian football that everything goes smoothly.