India warned by Fifa of looming ban, loss of women’s Under-17 World Cup
- World governing body and Asian Football Confederation write to All India Football Federation, citing ‘deviations’ from agreed road map about governance
- Road map said Indian body should amend statutes by end of July and hold elections by September 15, with potential sanctions including loss of hosting rights
India’s highest court disbanded the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in May and appointed a three-member committee to govern the sport, amend the AIFF’s constitution and conduct elections that have been pending for 18 months.
In response, the world governing body and the Asian Football Confederation sent a team led by Windsor John, the AFC general secretary, to meet stakeholders in Indian football and laid down a road map for the AIFF to amend its statutes by the end of July and subsequently conclude elections at the latest by September 15.
Any ban could have an impact on India’s participation at next year’s Asia Cup. Igor Stimac’s side won the qualifying tournament they hosted in June, with Hong Kong also reaching the finals for the first time in 54 years.
But just days after that triumph, evidence of the discord within Indian football came to the surface when Stimac threatened to quit if drastic changes were not made to the way the country’s domestic game was run.
Last week, the Indian court ordered elections to be held promptly and said the elected committee would be an interim body for a period of three months.
“As per the said road map, the AIFF was to call for a special general assembly in the first week of August 2022 to approve the new statutes worked upon with Fifa, the AFC and the Indian football community,” a letter sent by Fifa and AFC said.
“Unfortunately, we have been informed that the Supreme Court’s hearing on the situation of the AIFF allegedly resulted in deviations to the aforementioned road map.
“If this is considered to be true, it would irrefutably jeopardise the mutual understanding which was displayed so far on the steps forward.”
The letter was addressed to acting AIFF general secretary Sunando Dhar and signed by Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura and AFC’s John. It asked the Indian body to provide a transcript of the court’s decision by Tuesday.
Fifa warned that sanctions, if serious deviations to the agreed road map were found, could include “the suspension of the AIFF and the withdrawal of the hosting rights for the 2022 Fifa U-17 Women’s World Cup in India [in October]”.
The elections of the AIFF, formerly led by Fifa Council member Praful Patel, were to be held by December 2020 but were delayed because of an impasse over amendments to its constitution.
Fifa statutes say that member federations must be free from legal and political interference in their respective countries, and the world governing body has previously suspended other national associations over similar cases.