Government Files Review Application in SC After FIFA Threat to Withdraw U-17 Women’s World Cup

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Succumbing to the pressure from the international football federation (FIFA) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) threatening to ban the All India Football Federation (AIFF) if it does not start the election process by August 15 and conclude it by Sept 15, the Government of India through the Sports Ministry has filed an application with the Supreme Court seeking modification of the top court’s order dated August 3, 2022, so that the process could be concluded before the deadline set by FIFA-AFC.

On August 5, FIFA-AFC had warned that if it finds the AIFF governance is not under democratic administration on or before September 15, there is a likelihood of stringent action being taken against AIFF, which would result in the withdrawal of hosting rights of the Women’s U-17 World Cup.

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In the prayer, the ministry has requested the apex court that in light of the exigency of the situation, the order dated August 3 be modified “to the extent of stating that interim arrangement of Elections to the Executive Committee of AIFF be held as per the time schedule already indicated in the tabulated statement set out in the said order, on the basis of the pre-existing membership structure of the AIFF.”

The ministry stated that in view of the unresolved status of objections submitted by various stakeholders, the finalisation of the AIFF draft constitution would take time, adding that the elections were necessary to avoid any adverse action on the part of FIFA-AFC, “to whom the AIFF is affiliated.”

The ministry urged the Supreme Court to modify its August 3 order to the extent that the election process be allowed, and assured that the objections of all relevant stakeholders will be addressed by the new elected body in the draft constitution.

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While making the prayer, the sports ministry made several observations to cite that the draft constitution that was submitted by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) to the Supreme Court on July 15, 2022, suffers from deficiency of inaccurate cross-linkage and referencing of various article in the document, as well as deficiencies in properly numbering of articles and sub-articles.

The ministry added that, from a collective reading of the aforesaid correspondence, it emerges that the FIFA-AFC have strong reservations in the membership structure of AIFF.

“It is submitted that the membership structure in the order dated 03.08.2022 appears to be not meeting the approval of FIFA-AFC, which aspect, if not resolved with a modification in the aforesaid order dated 03.08.2022, may defeat the very purpose for which such exercise was so kindly initiated by this Hon’ble Court.”

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Finally, in the submission, the ministry’s wrote, “That in light of the development, it appears that notwithstanding the best efforts of the CoA, this Hon’b!e Court and the cooperation extended by other stakeholders, the inclusion of new members (36 sportspersons) into the membership structure of AIFF, the desired purpose may not have been achieved requiring a fresh look into this aspect by this Hon’ble Court so as to facilitate the prime objective of retaining the hosting rights of the Women’s U-17 World Cup.”

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