Women SAFF hit by India football suspensionThe sub-continental tournament scheduled for September 6 to 19 in Kathmandu will be without previous five-edition champions India due to FIFA suspension.
FIFA’s suspension of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will hit the sixth SAFF Women’s Championship set to be held in Kathmandu from September 6 to 19.
The sub-continental football tournament will be without powerhouse India following the world football governing body FIFA’s announcement on Tuesday.
FIFA decided to suspend AIFF with immediate effect owing to “undue influence from third parties”.
“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,” reads a statement issued by FIFA.
The world football governing body further added that India would be ineligible to host FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 scheduled to take place in different cities of the country from October 11 to 30 later this year.
“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once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs,” the statement further reads.
Apart from denying India to host U-17 Cup, the men’s and women’s national and age group teams would also be ineligible to compete against other national football and also age group events. The Indian football clubs will also be ineligible to participate in other club tournaments to be hosted by Asian Football Confederation.
Indian team are the winners of all five editions of the biennial SAFF Women’s Championship. They have defeated Nepal in the final on four occasions except in 2016 when they lost the semi-final against the same side.
“A virtual meeting of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) will take place on Wednesday to discuss the matter about AIFF and upcoming football tournaments,” said a source at SAFF who did not want to be named.
Women’s I-League champions Gokulam Kerala are currently in Uzbekistan to compete in the AFC Women’s Club Championship. They have also roped in Nepal’s star striker Sabitra Bhandari for the second year in a row and she is also currently with the Gokulam squad in Uzbekistan.
Problems in Indian football
According to various media reports in India, AIFF president Praful Patel, expelled by the Supreme Court of the country, completed his third term of four years in December 2020. India’s sports code allows an individual only three terms of four year at leadership.
The AIFF did not hold its election after December 2020 owing to a case pending at the court over its constitution. In relation to the petition, the Sports Ministry of India in April responded to the court that Patel and his committee has no right to hold onto their offices
“It is submitted that as the term of the existing committee (of the AIFF) is already over, and the existing president (Patel) has completed more than 12 years as president, the Petitioner (AIFF) should hold elections without further delay as per extant instructions contained under Sports Code and the instructions issued by the Answering Respondent (sports ministry) from time to time," the ministry said.
The court in May disbanded AIFF and formed a three-member committee to govern the game, amend AIFF's constitution and conduct fresh elections.
Responding to that, FIFA and the AFC sent a delegation to India who gave a roadmap for AIFF to amend its statutes by the end of July and conclude elections by September 15 before the suspension was imposed.
The next hearing regarding the petition will take place on Wednesday. “The suspension could be lifted in short time if the Supreme Court decides to dissolve the three-member committee and reinstate AIFF administration on Wednesday. In such a situation, India will continue as Women U-17 World Cup host but if they stick to their previous decision they could go through the worst situation,” said a source at the AFC.
The FIFA statement further adds, “FIFA is in constant constructive contact with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India and is hopeful that a positive outcome to the case may still be achieved.”