May 17 – In Indian football, pressure is mounting on President Praful Patel and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to hold snap elections, with Football Delhi president Shaji Prabhakaran writing to the world governing body urging FIFA to set up a normalization committee in India to build.
Football Delhi’s move is significant because it is the first time a national association has expressed the need for the AIFF to find a solution to the impasse at the top of Indian football – the mandate of AIFF President Praful Patel officially ended in year 2020.
“Delhi, as a founding member of AIFF, makes a sincere appeal to the Executive Committee of AIFF to urgently contact the FIFA administration to visit India to initiate the process of establishing a normalization committee in India, as recommended by the Executive Committee of Football Delhi deems it appropriate to do so in the best interests of Indian football and the AIFF,” read Football Delhi’s letter to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura and AFC Secretary General Windsor John.
Patel, a member of the FIFA Council, has avoided snap elections since 2020 when the decision-making body lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court seeking clarification on its constitution just a month before the upcoming election. Patel dismissed criticism of gerrymandering in order to stay in power longer. He is not eligible to vote in the next election, having already served three four-year terms.
“The association has already been under court intervention since 2017 and since the end of the mandate in December 2020, it has been unable to take any major financial and political decisions that impede the development of football due to the development stage of Indian football and any political paralysis is counterproductive to the growth of the game at this critical juncture for India,” Prabhakaran told Insideworldfootball.
“The original case (2017) before the court was justified as the federation statutes were not fully in line with the National Sports Development Code (Good Governance Practice mandated by the Government of India). The expectation was that the case would be resolved within a year as it was not a complicated case and the court-appointed Ombudsman would be able to work with AIFF to propose an amended statute incorporating the National Sport Development Code of the Government continues to take over For the past four years, the case has been closed despite the Association having expended significant legal fees on the case.”
Earlier this month, the AIFF and its Executive Committee obtained a second legal opinion on whether the AIFF can proceed with organizing a special board meeting to conduct elections.
On the sidelines of the FIFA Congress, Patel told Insideworldfootball he wasn’t to blame. “How can I be held liable?” said Patel. “It’s a Supreme Court that appointed a committee to give us a new constitution. We’re just obeying the law. We are just waiting for a final constitution that will eventually be approved by the courts. As soon as the constitution is in place, we will be happy to hold elections at the earliest.”
FIFA has not responded to a request for comment as of publication.
Earlier this year, India hosted the Asian Women’s Cup and will host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in October. India is also bidding to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027 but could potentially bid to host 2023 following China’s withdrawal from hosting last weekend.
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