Member associations of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said on Wednesday they were concerned whether the new constitution would be ready in time for it to be vetted by Fifa before the July 15 deadline set by the Supreme Court. Taking Fifa into confidence was one of the decisions of the Fifa-AFC joint delegation that visited New Delhi last month.
This was after the draft statutes of the constitution could not be presented to the committee representing the states in New Delhi on Wednesday. They were not ready yet, said a state representative who attended the meeting. “We had a verbal discussion at what was the last scheduled meeting ahead of the Supreme Court deadline,” he said. The representative requested anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
A seven-member committee representing AIFF’s 35 affiliates was formed in May to review the draft constitution framed by SY Quraishi and Bhaskar Ganguly. Quraishi, a former chief election commissioner, and former India captain Ganguly are in the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by retired Supreme Court judge AR Dave to run AIFF following a Supreme Court ruling in May.
Wednesday’s meeting between the state representatives and CoA was to discuss the nearly 50 changes proposed to the draft. Among the major sticking points are: members elected to AIFF must resign their positions in the state associations and the size of the executive committee be reduced from the current 17 to eight and include three former international players.
“We had a fruitful meeting with the SA (state association) members and valuable suggestions were exchanged. The CoA will take into consideration all the suggestions that have come so far and finalise the constitution to be submitted to honourable Supreme Court,” Quraishi said in an AIFF media release on Wednesday.
“We hope that doesn’t happen without showing us the final version. We can’t take a chance because ultimately it will be our constitution,” said a state association official. This official too didn’t want to be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue. CoA has been informed that AIFF members will move Supreme Court to ensure their views on the constitution is heard, said the official.
There is still time for this to be resolved, said Shaji Prabhakaran, president Football Delhi and one of the seven members representing the states. But should the matter drag in court, Fifa deadlines will be missed, the consequence of which could be a ban.
A letter from Fifa on July 1 to Sunando Dhar, acting general secretary of AIFF, said, “we would like to remind the AIFF” that the new constitution to be sent to “AIFF General Assembly (sic) for approval should be ready by 31 July 2022 at the latest, failing which the matter will be submitted to the FIFA Council for consideration and decision.”
The 37-member Fifa council is the main deciding body between Fifa congresses. The letter, of which HT has a copy, also states that “football stakeholders in India are best placed to make vital decisions on football matters.”
“That is why we were dejected after today’s meeting,” said the first state representative. “AIFF has been founded by members and we are feeling distanced today. It is only because all AIFF members spoke in one voice saying we wanted reforms that Fifa did not ban India. All we want is a practical constitution in keeping with the National Sports Code and Fifa statutes,” he said.
The letter also says Fifa and AFC (Asian Football Confederation) expect AIFF to approve the constitution by “the first week of August” and that elections are concluded by September 15.