AIFF assures elections will be held according to Government's Sports Code

After the High Court had ordered the football authority to conduct elections according to the Sports Code, the AIFF has allayed fears of any chance of the body being de-recognised

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has assured that they will be in sync with the government’s Sports Code while conducting its Annual General Meeting in Delhi on Thursday.

“The federation is very much following the sports code. Even the observer for the election was finalised in the first week of November, in the AIFF’s last executive committee meeting. It is very much a transparent system. Whatever falls under the purview of sports code, we are following them,” an AIFF official told PTI.

They were forced to make such a statement due to the Delhi High Court’s order to follow the government’s Sports Code while conducting the polls.

Barely two days before the elections, the High Court, acting on an application filed by lawyer-activist Rahul Mehra, asked the AIFF to conduct the polls under the government’s Sports Code.

The court had warned that if any irregularities are brought to the notice of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, then it would be compelled to take proper measures.

To ensure compliance of the federation with the government sports code, the elections will be supervised by an official from the Ministry of Sports.

PK Dey, secretary at the sports ministry, told Times Of India on Wednesday that they will only act if they find anything unsatisfactory in the observers report. "Let us make it very clear. We (the sports ministry) are not in the business of disaffiliating any association or federation. We would much rather have them follow the Sports Code and run their organizations in accordance to all regulations," said Dey.

Besides rendering a person older than 70 years ineligible to contest the poll for a sports body office, the sports code also stipulates that no person elected to any office consecutively for three terms with each term being of four years would be eligible to contest the poll.

One of the points mentioned in the petition filed by Rahul Mehra refers to the non-inclusion of sportspersons (minimum 25%) with voting rights in its management as provided for in Sports Code. This implies that if some of India's most dedicated servants to football like Bhaichung Bhutia, IM Vijayan or any of the Arjuna awardees want to be part of the election process, the AIFF charter does not allow them to.

Mehra has also requested to the Delhi High Court to pass an order directing the government to create an ad-hoc committee comprising of elite sportspersons of eminence like Bhutia and authorize them to be in charge of day-to-day affairs of the AIFF till fresh elections are held are held complying to the provisions of the Model Election Guidelines and various other provisions of the Sports Code.

The ministry had recently de-recognised the Archery Association of India (AAI) and suspended the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) for not following the National Sports Code in their elections.

Clean Sports India, a movement for corruption-free sports in the country, had welcomed the court’s order, saying the football body was "blatantly violating" basic poll procedures.

"CSI welcomes the High Court's judgement on AIFF election. We also commend Rahul Mehra for taking up the issue," CSI national convenor BPV Rao said.

"The AIFF was blatantly violating basic ethics and principles of elections by not declaring the electoral college," he said.

"There must have been an electoral college and only those members from the electoral college should be able to contest and vote. The nomination date was December 5, but they have sought names from the affiliated state federations much after that. In principle, the electoral college should have been out well in advance. How can they conduct the elections?"

The All India Football Federation will be affecting a major reshuffle, which will see induction of three new vice-presidents as well as members from the five zones, but the top post — that of president — will remain unchanged.

Praful Patel will be elected unopposed as president, east zone’s senior vice-president Subrata Dutta will retain his post.

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