Praful Patel writes to FIFA chief Gianni Infantino; requests him not to ban India

Former All India Football Federation (AIFF) president, Praful Patel has written to FIFA president, Gianni Infantino requesting the world football governing body’s chief to not impose a ban on India after the national body was placed under a Committee of Administrators (CoA).

Patel who recently stepped down as president of the AIFF following the directive of the Supreme Court believes that holding elections at the earliest is critical and that he will request Infantino to give some leeway to India.

There are concerns that India could face a ban very soon, considering that FIFA have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to external interference in the functioning of national member federations – which could also see them decided to move the Under-17 Women’s World Cup from India, which is scheduled to take place later this year.

“I request the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and FIFA to not impose a suspension at this stage, but instead to consider this important aspect of the Supreme Court order and enter into a dialogue with the CoA to receive a commitment that the said timelines laid down by the Supreme Court would be respected and strictly followed without allowing for delays on any account,” Patel said in his letter to Infantino.

“Noting that the appointment of the CoA by the Supreme Court could be prima facie interpreted by both the AFC and FIFA as a case of undue third-party influence/judicial interference, I fear that a suspension by the AFC and/or FIFA will automatically prevent India and/or Indian clubs and players from participating in any international competitions, and deprive the AIFF from receiving much-needed development funds at a crucial juncture of development for the game in India.

“Any suspension of the AIFF would also jeopardise the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers, which will be hosted by India from 8 June 2022 in the football-loving city of Kolkata and for which all preparations have been completed. Further the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup is scheduled to be held in three states across India from 11-30 October 2022, the first time ever a FIFA women’s competition be held in India, and which is widely expected to boost the women’s game in the country,” he added in his letter.

A joint team from the world governing body, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is reportedly set to visit India in order to “understand the current football situation”, while a CoA member recently stated that new AIFF elections could take place in September-October.