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‘Abused his position’, CoA moves SC seeking contempt against Praful Patel in AIFF case

New Delhi, Aug 10, 2022- The Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has moved the top court seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against former All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel and representatives of seven state associations accusing them of indirectly stalling the court ordered elections to the AIFF.

The plea filed by CoA said after the apex court on August 3 had recorded the consensus among the various parties to first conduct the elections to the AIFF in a time bound fashion and then to finalise the constitution, the state associations have attempted to resile from the same, but indirectly.

“The evidence enclosed with this contempt petition would show that Praful Patel, who had been removed as President of the AIFF, has consistently abused his position as a Council Member of FIFA to orchestrate a campaign among the State Associations to undermine the various steps taken by this court for the betterment of football, including having footballers involved in governance and administration,” added the plea.

It added that as recently as on August 6 the very deponents before this court on behalf of the state associations have participated in meetings conducted by Patel where he impliedly admits that letters threatening suspension from the FIFA-AFC have been obtained to “help” them, and that the government is convinced to seek a review of the order fearing the worst.

“It is clear that the government has been misled by the State Associations, as have FIFA-AFC who are ignorant of the duplicitous role being played by Patel. Although many steps have been taken towards the elections, this court appointed Committee seeks that measures be taken (as was done in the BCCI case) to prevent those who endanger Indian football from interfering with the court’s monitoring of the process. Hence, the present contempt petition,” added the plea.

The CoA said the primary cause for the present contempt petition, is the continuing central role of Patel, former President of AIFF, who has impliedly admitted to having arranged for the letter from FIFA-AFC, and has conducted a meeting of the 35 intervening member associations on August 6, 2022 with the express purpose of interfering with the proceedings of this court.

“The CoA has come to learn that the very State Associations, who were before this Hon’ble Court and had given their consent, in fact approached some individuals in the Union Ministry with a copy of the FIFA-AFC letter of 05.08.2022 (but not the CoA Reply of 06.08.2022) and created a fear of AIFF being suspended because of non-compliances. There was no consultation with the CoA (although extensive meetings had been held earlier with ASG Mr Sanjay Jain and the Officials of the Ministry) on the response to the FIFA-AFC letter, but at the behest of the State Associations, some members of the Ministry were convinced that the Supreme Court’s order ought to be modified,” added the plea.

On August 3, the Supreme Court directed that the interim executive committee for All India Football Federation (AIFF) would be elected not only by 36 state football federations, but also by 36 eminent former football players — 24 male and 12 female players who played international matches for the country.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and J.B. Pardiwala directed the Committee of Administrators (CoA) to conduct the AIFF elections expeditiously as per the timeline laid down by the CoA and in consonance with the football federation’s draft constitution. The top court clarified that the elected committee would be an interim body, which would continue for a period of three months subject to further orders. The top court asked CoA to hold the election expeditiously to ensure that the Under 17 Women’s World cup is managed by an elected body.

The Women’s World Cup Tournament will commence on October 11 and India will host it. The top court decided to expedite the election as FIFA requires a democratically elected body of AIFF to oversee the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.

The bench declined to entertain the state football federations plea that they should only have voting rights, instead it pointed out that even the National Sports Code says that players should be represented in sports federations.  (Agency)

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