Indians ask FIFA to lift ban as politicians line up for a run at AIFF presidency

August 25 – The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has asked FIFA to lift the federation’s suspension after control over day-to-day affairs was returned to the ruling body.

Last week, FIFA moved to suspend the AIFF over third-party interference in accordance with article 14 of the FIFA statutes after India’s supreme court had sidelined AIFF president Praful Patel in May and appointed a committee of administrators to run the federation, amend the constitution and stage fresh elections.

However, with the Supreme Court returning administrative control to AIFF on Monday, the Indian governing body has asked FIFA to lift the suspension, not in the least to try and rescue the U-17 Women’s World Cup.

“We request the FIFA… to reconsider their decision of suspending the AlFF,” Sunando Dhar, AIFF’s acting general secretary, wrote in a letter to FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura.

”Since the conditions set out in your letter for lifting of the suspension stand satisfied, we request that a order to that effect be passed at the earliest for the AIFF to continue with the smooth running of football in India.”

India had been scheduled to host the junior competition in October but because of the suspension FIFA stripped the country of the tournament’s hosting rights.

The ban also impacted Indian club sides due to play international games. Gokulam Kerala were barred from participating in the AFC’s women’s club championship in Uzbekistan and the Blue Tigers’ fixtures against Vietnam and Singapore were cancelled.

But the AIFF could soon get back on track with elections slated for the start of September. Local media report that Kalyan Chaubey (pictured), a former goalkeeper and BJP leader from Bengal, has been moved forward to contest the elections and succeed Praful Patel, a sign that the country’s ruling political party is taking firm control of the Indian game.

Chaubey is a politician which begs the question of whether his candidacy in itself constitutes political interference? While there are plenty of examples around the world of politicians running their national football federations, the recent Indian history of government interference in the national federation will certainly keep FIFA’s watchers closely attentive in the second most populous nation in the world.

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