The apex body of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) should be able to amend its constitution without it needing to be ratified by any court. This statement is part of the joint comments from Fifa and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on the AIFF’s draft constitution.
“We are of the opinion that the… supreme and legislative body of AIFF, should remain entitled in future to amend the AIFF Statutes without the need for the Courts (sic) to validate the relevant changes,” says the letter from Fifa and AFC to Sunando Dhar, AIFF’s acting general secretary. The letter is dated July 25 and signed by Kenny Jean-Marie, chief member associations officer, and Vahid Kardany, deputy general secretary AFC.
This was in reaction to “recent feedback received from local stakeholders” saying that the Supreme Court may say that “future amendments to AIFF Statutes will have to be validated again by courts,” the letter states. HT has a copy of the letter.
Following reforms in the running of the Indian cricket board, BCCI, the Supreme Court’s approval is needed for any amendment to its constitution.
The Fifa-AFC letter also has similarities with the objections to the draft constitution sent to Supreme Court by AIFF’s member associations. Both propose reducing the power of former internationals in AIFF. Both state that being a federation office-bearer does not mean the post in the state association will have to be resigned. Fifa-AFC and the states have also suggested keeping the post of vice-presidents of which there is no provision in the draft.
On the issue of former internationals, referred to as eminent players in the draft, the states have said they should not be allowed to propose candidates “which should be reserved for members of AIFF only. This is an explicit requirement of Article 22 of the FIFA Statutes of May 22.” The states have also said two representatives from each state, one eminent player and another official, “violates FIFA Statutes which makes clear that member associations should have only one vote in the general body.”
A copy of the states’ objections – 16 in all – signed by advocate on record Prateek K Chadha is with HT. The draft constitution says each of AIFF’s 35 states shall be represented by two persons, one of whom is an eminent player. The draft has been prepared by the committee of administrators appointed by Supreme Court.
States have said eminent players should not be part of the general body. On eminent players, Fifa-AFC have said that there can be “above 25%” representation in the executive committee but as “co-opted members.” Having a 50% players’ representation in the general body “is not a prudent idea,” the letter says. “Although we agree that the players’ voice needs to be heard, we are also of the view that the importance of the existing members of the AIFF should not be undermined,” the joint-letter states.
States have sought an eminent player from each zone be included in the executive committee. The draft has divided AIFF affiliates into five zones, north, north-east, east, west and south. States have also said there should be a vice-president from each zone.
Fifa-AFC too have suggested that vice-presidents be part of AIFF. “Another option would be to create the position of Vice-President / VicePresidents (sic) in the AIFF Executive Committee and provide in the AIFF Statutes that such official(s) would step in, in the absence of the President,” the letter states.
This is in response to article 25.5 of the draft which states that if the president cannot perform his/her duties, the executive committee can decide on a person to step in. Fifa-AFC suggestion about vice-presidents comes after pointing out that if that post is not there, the person replacing the president should be from the executive committee.
The states have argued that an AIFF office-bearer should not have to “relinquish their position in a member association.” This, the states have said, “would make re-election impossible” and that such a directive “ignores the realities of football administration in India.”
On the same Article 25.3, Fifa-AFC have said: “We are of the view that such a proposal would make it difficult for the Members to get re-elected again at the respective Member Associations in the event that they cannot serve their full term in the Executive Committee of AIFF for any reason.”
As reported earlier, states have also objected to the draft stating that the top league must be owned and managed by AIFF. “Across the world, leagues are not necessarily owned and run by NSFs (eg. English Premier League, La Liga & MLS)… Moreover, it violates existing commercial arrangements,” the states have said.
The Supreme Court will hear the matter on Thursday. Following the hearing on July 21, the court had asked all stakeholders to submit a brief note of their objections to the draft. July 31 is the Fifa deadline to finalise the constitution and September 15 to hold elections.