Former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey has become the new All India Football Federation President after besting former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia 33-1 in polls decided by the 34-member voters’ list made up of state association representatives.
Chaubey, a Bharatiya Janta Party leader from West Bengal, has become the first former national team player to be elected as the head of Indian football’s governing body. The election results come on the back of a dark phase in Indian football, having suffered a temporary ban from the world football governing body, FIFA owing to a classic case of third party interference after the Supreme Court appointed a Committee of Administrators to run the daily operations at AIFF.
While the participation of Bhutia, a premier football figure in the country and the second most capped India player of all time, had brought the election into more light, his counterpart had been seen as a favorite owing to his political experience. The 45-year-old had contested and lost in the 2019 general elections in Krishnanagar.
“Congratulations to Kalyan, I hope under him we’ll be able to take Indian football forward. I have been working in football before the elections, I’ll continue after it too,” Bhutia said after the announcement. The former India international left midway while the counting for vice president and treasurer was still going on and has confirmed that he will be a part of the AIFF executive committee as an eminent player.
He further added, “I run a football club, I have been in state association in Sikkim for the last six years, I have had the exposure of playing in England, I am in constant touch with some of the world’s top footballers, I started Indian football players association – only football has a players association with proper rules in place (in India).”
With FIFA having lifted off the ban, the task at hand for Chaubey is bigger than ever to restore normalcy at an administrative level as India get set to host the U-17 Women’s World Cup in October.