India’s Patel sidelined as Supreme Court appoints committee to accelerate change

May 18 – All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel has been sidelined from the game after the country’s Supreme Court appointed a committee to finalise the ruling body’s constitution and manage everyday administration. 

Patel’s time at the helm of Indian football is slowly but surely coming to an end. His mandate ended in 2020, but he has remained in power because the ruling body moved an application to the Supreme Court only a month before its elections were due, seeking clarification over its constitution.

On Wednesday, however, India’s Supreme Court finally took steps to end the impasse and appointed a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by former top court judge AR Dave to manage the AIFF’s affairs and adopt a constitution in line with India’s National Sports Code.

The court added that it anticipates that the presidential elections will be held at an expeditious date.  A FIFA Council member, Patel is ineligible to stand, having already served three four-year terms.

Patel has always denied any accusations of acting incorrectly, and the AIFF always maintained that it could not stage fresh elections because of the “non-finalization of its constitution”, but Delhi Football moved against him to seek FIFA to appoint a normalization committee.

“In 2017, the last election of the football federation was set aside by the Delhi High Court. When an SLP was filed in this court, this court appointed a committee headed by former election commissioner and sports secretary Qureshi to prepare a Constitution for AIFF in accordance with the sports code. Even that has been done long ago..,” said Football Delhi lawyer Prashant Bhushan in court.

Patel’s removal reflects badly on Indian football once again, and at a delicate time with India hosting the U-17 Women’s World Cup later this year. The country is also bidding for the 2027 Asian Cup.

FIFA were contacted for comment but had not replied by presstime.

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