FIFA lifts suspension on Indian football, U-17 World Cup back on track

World football’s governing body FIFA lifted the suspension imposed on the All India Football Federation (AIFF) earlier this month after the Supreme Court, last Monday, dissolved the Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed to run the federation. Consequently, FIFA added, the U-17 Women’s World Cup will go ahead in India as scheduled in October.

The decision was announced late on Friday by the Bureau of FIFA Council, which comprises FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the heads of six confederations.

“The decision was taken after FIFA received confirmation that the mandate of the committee of administrators that was set up to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee had been terminated and that the AIFF administration had regained full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs. FIFA and the AFC will continue to monitor the situation and will support the AIFF in organising its elections in a timely manner,” FIFA said in a statement.

It added: “As a consequence, the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022™ scheduled to take place on 11-30 October 2022 will be held in India as planned.”

In her letter to AIFF acting secretary-general Sunando Dhar, FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura said ‘a further communication to the AIFF will follow shortly with respect to the next steps to be taken towards holding elections.’

The AIFF elections are scheduled to take place on September 2, with footballers-turned-politicians Kalyan Chaubey and Bhaichung Bhutia fighting for the president’s post.

They will succeed Praful Patel, whose 12-year stint ended abruptly in May after the Supreme Court appointed a CoA following a logjam in finalising AIFF constitution and holding elections.

As a consequence, on August 14, FIFA had suspended the AIFF for ‘undue third-party influence’, referring to the CoA that had taken charge of daily affairs of the AIFF.

It had placed two conditions to lift the suspension: repealing the CoA’s mandate in full and handing over the power back of the AIFF administration.

Fearing that they’ll lose the right to host the U-17 World Cup, the government filed an application in the Supreme Court last Sunday to take these two steps, which were confirmed in a judgement passed on Monday by a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud.

The lifting of the suspension means Indian teams can once again compete in international matches as well as participate in the transfer market, among benefits.

Following the suspension, the Asian Football Confederation had barred Indian Women’s League champions Gokulam Kerala from participating in the Asian Club Championship and Vietnam had expressed its inability to host India for friendly matches in September. The AIFF is likely to reopen dialogue with the Vietnamese federation to bring the fixtures back on track.

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