New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Central government to take “proactive steps” with the world football governing body FIFA to ensure that the suspension of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is lifted and the country gets to host the Under-17 Women Football World Cup as scheduled.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna and JB Pardiwala adjourned the hearing in the matter related to AIFF on the request of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, as he said some discussions are going on with FIFA.
The bench in its order stated, “Solicitor General has informed the court that government of India is in active engagement with FIFA and stakeholders to ensure Under-17 World Cup in the country as planned. The meeting happened on Tuesday and discussions are ongoing. We request the Centre to take proactive measures to ensure holding of Under-17 world cup and lift the suspension on AIFF so the objective is duly achieved.”
At the outset of the hearing, Solicitor General informed the top court that the Central government has taken up the issue with FIFA on the suspension of AIFF.
“Yesterday itself government took it up as an issue. We had two meetings with FIFA. We have reached a stage. I must also say that the Committee of Administrators (CoA) has played a very constructive role. There is some breaking of the ice which has taken place. I am requesting if this can be kept on Monday,” Mehta said.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, the petitioner in the main case, told the bench that the entire event has been orchestrated by the former AIFF President Praful Patel, who was ousted after the Supreme Court’s orders.
The Centre on Tuesday mentioned before the apex court the decision of the FIFA Council suspending the AIFF with immediate effect, which has stripped India’s right to host the Under-17 Women’s World Cup, scheduled for October.
FIFA, the apex football body on Tuesday announced that it has decided to suspend the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect and the decision was taken unanimously by the Bureau of the FIFA Council. The decision has been taken due to “undue influence from third parties”, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes.
In a press statement, FIFA said that the suspension will be revoked once the order appointing the Committee of Administrators (CoA) to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee is repealed.
FIFA was reportedly concerned by a CoA appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the functioning of AIFF till a democratically elected executive committee is put in place.
The Supreme Court on May 18 appointed a three-member CoA to manage the affairs of the AIFF. The CoA is headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice (Retd) Anil Dave, and comprises former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi and a former captain of Indian football team Bhaskar Ganguly.
The Supreme Court order forced AIFF president and NCP leader Praful Patel and his Executive Committee to step down for not holding elections due in December 2020.
Patel’s third term in office ended in December 2020. As per rule, 12 years is the maximum term permitted to a national Sports Federation Chief under the Sports Code.
The top court had directed the CoA on August 3 to elect the AIFF Executive Committee and finalise the constitution for AIFF in consonance with the National Sports Code.
The apex court also directed the Executive Committee of the AIFF to expeditiously hold elections as per the schedule proposed by the CoA, which is currently running the affairs of the national federation.
On August 5, the Supreme Court approved the COA timeline for AIFF elections, polls to be held on August 28 and the poll process will start on August 13.
Later on Monday, FIFA suspended the AIFF and threatened to strip its right to host the women’s U-17 World Cup, days after the Supreme Court’s direction to hold elections of the AIFF.
The CoA had earlier filed a contempt petition before the apex court alleging that the ousted AIFF President Praful Patel for misusing his position as a FIFA Council member to undermine the court orders and the conduct of the tournament.