Guest post by Pallavi Mohan
Recently FIFA (International Federation of Association Football)—the international governing body for football– banned India’s All India Football Federation (AIFF) for undue influence from third parties.
What are the events that led to FIFA taking this decision?
A few months ago, the Supreme Court of India removed the serving President of AIFF, who had already served three terms as President and was refusing to vacate the position. He had also failed to hold elections for the posts in the governing body, which were due in December 2020.
Instead, the Court appointed a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to take over the administration of AIFF. The Court also asked the CoA to frame the AIFF’s constitution in line with the National Sports Code and model guidelines. The AIFF will organise its elections at the end of August.
What was the basis for FIFA’s ban?
FIFA does not allow either courts or governments to interfere in the administration of its member associations. Its statutes say that if there is a dispute in the administration of any nation’s football governing body, then the parties cannot approach the courts of that nation for settling the disputes or for any interim relief, until and unless FIFA regulations allow it. FIFA asks them to settle all such disputes through arbitration. FIFA Member Associations or governing bodies have to include a clause in their statutes or regulations, including this prohibition. the Supreme Court’s removal of the President of AIFF and appointment of the CoA, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has imposed the ban on India.
In recent years, several other countries such as Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Nigeria, Pakistan, Chad, Guatemala, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya have faced similar bans from FIFA because of third-party interference in their football governing bodies. For some of them, the ban has been lifted after the governing bodies and their officials have been reinstated or been allowed to function independently.
What does this mean for Indian football?
This means that the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022, scheduled to be hosted by India in October, will no longer be held here. It also means that all Indian football clubs, players, referees and officials can no longer take part in any international football tournaments until the ban is lifted.
What will happen next?
FIFA, while passing the banning order, said that:
- It would lift the ban if the court repeals CoA’s mandate in full and makes the AIFF administration fully in charge of its daily affairs once again.
- The AIFF constitution would have to be revised as per the requirements of the FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation — to be approved by the AIFF general assembly without interference from any third party.
- FIFA concurrently wanted an independent electoral committee to be elected by the AIFF general assembly to run the elections of a new executive committee concurrently, where elections are based on the pre-existing membership of the AIFF (i.e. state associations only).
If India fulfils all the conditions of FIFA, then it is likely that the ban will be lifted.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court has also asked the government to proactively discuss the issue with FIFA to ensure that the Under 17 Women’s World Cup can continue to be hosted by India as planned earlier.