FIFA, AFC allege deviations from roadmap, threaten to suspend India and withdraw hosting rights of U-17 Women’s World Cup

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World football’s governing body FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have threatened to impose a ban on India, as well as the withdrawal of hosting rights for the upcoming U-17 Women’s World Cup, for ‘alleged deviations’ from the roadmap agreed to conduct the All India Football Federation (AIFF) elections.

In a letter to acting AIFF general secretary Sunando Dhar, accessed by The Indian Express, FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura and her AFC counterpart Windsor John have demanded an ‘official transcript of the Supreme Court’s decision on August 3’. The apex court, in its ruling, had directed the Committee of Administrators in charge of AIFF to expeditiously conduct elections but added that the elected committee would be an interim body, which would continue for a period of three months.

Expressing their displeasure, FIFA and AFC wrote in their letter on Friday: “As per the said roadmap, the AIFF was to call for special general assembly in first week of August 2022 to approve new statutes worked upon with FIFA, the AFC and the Indian football community.”

The letter added: “Unfortunately, we have been informed that Supreme Court’s hearing held yesterday on the situation of the AIFF allegedly resulted in deviations from aforementioned roadmap. If this is considered to be true, it would irrefutably jeopardise the mutual understanding which was displayed so far on the steps forward.”

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FIFA and AFC, who had dispatched a high-level delegation to New Delhi in June to meet all officials, said a copy of the Supreme Court order should be shared with them by August 9, 5pm IST.

“Upon receipt of the said documentation and following its in-depth analysis, should there exist serious deviations from aforesaid roadmap, we would submit the matter to our relevant decision-making body for further considerations and possible decisions based on FIFA statutes, including the suspension of AIFF and withdrawal of hosting rights for the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India.”

The saga began after the AIFF did not hold elections to appoint a new president within its set timeframe, owing to a logjam in finalising its constitution. This led to the Supreme Court appointing a three-member CoA, comprising ex-Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, former Supreme Court judge Anil Dave, and former India captain Bhaskar Ganguly, to run the day-to-day affairs of the AIFF after finding them in violation of the Sports Code.

As a consequence, India risked facing action from FIFA, which saw this as a violation of their statutes.

The impact of a FIFA suspension could be drastic. Apart from losing hosting rights for the u-17 women’s World Cup, it could impact the team’s participation in the event. The national team, too, could be barred from playing international matches while the clubs will not be allowed to compete in continental tournaments. Additionally, they will also be unable to sign foreign players other than those already on their rosters.

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