FIFA suspends AIFF: Timeline of events

Praful Patel had held the post of AIFF president since January 2011. Dulat - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

The All India Football Federation has been suspended by FIFA on the grounds that the AIFF resorted to "third party interference" in a bid to get its house in order. The AIFF has, subsequently, lost all its FIFA membership rights including hosting rights of the U-17 Women's World Cup slated to be held next month. Also, no Indian football teams can participate in any international competitions, neither the AIFF nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programmes courses or training from FIFA and/or the AFC.

How did the AIFF land itself in such a mess? Here's the timeline of events:

May 12: The Supreme Court (SC) agrees to hear a plea from Delhi FC alleging the illegal continuation of Praful Patel as president of AIFF for over a decade.

May 18: The SC relieves Praful Patel from his post as AIFF president; his term in office had already ended in December, 2020. Patel had served three terms of four years each as the AIFF president, which is the maximum time period an administrator can serve as per the Government of India's National Sports Development Code.

The Court subsequently appoints a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), consisting former former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, Justice (retd) AR Dave and former Indian football team captain Bhaskar Ganguly, to manage the AIFF.

May 22: Around 25 AIFF-affiliated state associations meet virtually to discuss the way forward. A seven-member committee is formed to go through the draft constitution and make suggestions (objections) before submitting it to the CoA.

The members are: Subrata Dutta (IFA), Shaji Prabhakaran (Delhi), K Satyanarayan (Karnataka), Vijay Bali (Punjab), Avijit Paul (Odisha), Mulrajsinh Chudasama (Gujarat) and Lalnghinglova (Tetea) Hmar (Mizoram).

June 18: Indian men's football team coach Igor Stimac - on the back of three back-to-back wins and qualification to the Asian Cup - gives an interview in which he speaks about FIFA looking unkindly at federations where there's been a political intervention. "We might have problems very soon if these elections are not held sooner than later, if we don't start organising ourselves which is impossible as I see now," he says.

June 20: The CoA appoints an advisory committee to "advise and assist them on day-to-day operations."

Ranjit Bajaj, Delhi FC owner and staunch critic of the previous regime, is named chairman and is also given charge of integrity matters. There are 11 others, entrusted with everything from logistics to legal to finance, many of them known for expressing their criticism of Patel's administration. All this while most members of the Patel administration remained in their posts.

June 21: A seven-member FIFA-AFC delegation lands in India on a three-day visit to survey all things Indian football. Led by AFC general secretary Windsor John, the delegation held meetings with the CoA, sports minister Anurag Thakur, Patel, representatives from the Indian Super League and I-League and officials from the AIFF and state associations.

Meanwhile...the 12-member advisory committee has been disbanded, a little over 24 hours after it was formed.

June 23: The visiting FIFA-AFC team sets strict deadlines for the CoA - get the AIFF constitution approved by July 31 and conduct the elections by September 15. The team emphasized on the fact that failing to adhere to the deadlines would attract a ban.

July 06: The CoA meets the seven-member state association committee [formed on May 22], to discuss their suggestions regarding the draft constitution.

July 13: The CoA sends the final draft of the AIFF constitution to FIFA and state associations.

July 18: The state associations are unhappy with several provisions in the final draft constitution but are willing to "find a middle ground" to avoid a FIFA ban.

July 21: The Supreme Court directs all parties to file objections, if any, to the draft constitution by July 25.

July 26: FIFA tells the AIFF that it recommends having a 25 percent eminent player representation in its Executive Committee as co-opted members instead of the 50 percent stipulated in the draft constitution by CoA.

August 3: The SC directs the AIFF's executive committee to hold elections as per the schedule proposed by the CoA. August 28 is finalised as the date for the elections. It also says there will be 50% eminent player representation and that the constitution will be finalised post the election.

August 6: FIFA threatens the AIFF with a suspension and says it will revoke India's rights to host the Women's U-17 World Cup if they assess that there has been undue third party influence.

August 7: The CoA assures FIFA that all is well. It also furnishes a guarantee from the Prime Minister for the holding of the U17 Women's World Cup.

August 10: The COA files a contempt petition against ousted AIFF president Praful Patel for "interfering with the proceedings" of the Supreme Court.

August 11: SC warns the state units of "exercising its authority" if ousted AIFF chief Praful Patel attends its meetings and interferes with the administration of justice.

August 13: The AIFF names 36 'eminent' players in the list of voters comprising the electoral college for the general's body elections, which are to be held on August 28.

August 15: FIFA holds its ground and reiterates to the Indian sports ministry that it opposes individual members' inclusion in the electoral college for the upcoming AIFF elections.

August 16: FIFA suspends AIFF.

August 17: The central government begins discussions with FIFA over the AIFF's ban. It asks the solicitor-general, appearing for the government, to "take proactive steps" to ensure the ban is lifted and the Under-17 Women's World Cup is staged in India as scheduled. The matter is deferred till August 22.

August 19: Seven names are nominated for the AIFF's president post: Bhaichung Bhutia, Kalyan Chaubey, Valanka Alemao, Shaji Prabhakaran, NA Haris, Ajit Banerjee, Manavendra Singh.

August 22: The Supreme Court issues a series of directives: (i) the AIFF must be run by the secretary-general for the foreseeable future and the CoA should cease to exist (ii) the AIFF's new Executive Committee shall consist of 23 members - 17 including treasurer will be elected by electoral college of 36 and six members to be drawn from eminent players (iii) the election, due on August 28, could be deferred by a week to adjust for the change in the electoral college.

August 26: FIFA lifts the suspension of AIFF after receiving confirmation that the AIFF general assembly has been reinstated while the CoA is no longer in charge. They also confirm that India will proceed as hosts for the 2022 U-17 Women's World Cup, scheduled to take place in October.