Goa's dream of hosting some of the matches of the U-17 Women's World Cup due in October 2022 was shattered after FIFA banned the All India Football Federation with immediate effect due to "undue influence from third parties."
The ban comes as a major jolt to Indian football. FIFA in an email sent to AIFF Acting General Secretary Sunando Dhar on August 15 wrote, "As a consequence, and in accordance with article 13 of the FIFA Statutes, AIFF loses all its membership rights as of 14 August, 2022, until further notice. AIFF representatives and club teams are therefore no longer entitled to take part in international competitions until the suspension is lifted. This also means that 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.”
The Supreme Court of India had disbanded the AIFF in May and appointed a three-member committee to govern the sport, amend the AIFF’s constitution and conduct elections that have been pending for 18 months.
Speaking to GT, Churchill Alemao, President of Goa Football Association said, “It is sad that matters reach this stage. I was part of the Zoom meeting by former AIFF president Praful Patel where I got a chance to speak. I clearly told him that the decision of the Supreme Court of India is final and that we cannot interfere.”
“The Committee of Administrators (COA) admitted by the Supreme Court was doing its job. Women football in India will suffer because the Indian team will not be able to participate and the girls practised a lot for the tournament,” stated Churchill.
“India is today paying for the sins of former General Secretary Alberto Colaco who was banned by FIFA Ethics Committee many years ago,” added Churchill.
It may be noted here that Alberto Colaco from Goa was the first Indian to have been banned by the FIFA Ethics Committee in 2014 for “accepting a payment in the context of the elections” for former Asian Football Committee (AFC) chief Mohamed bin Hammam for the FIFA Executive Committee seat in 2009.
Arjuna awardee and Director of coaching with Sports Authority of Goa, Bruno Coutinho, said. “I think the decision of the COA to give players a voice in AIFF was good because that is one way football will grow in India. However, I feel sad the women will miss the Women's World Cup that India was supposed to host."
“People managing football in India need to realize that the sport needs to be governed in a transparent manner. AIFF was at fault for the way it was running football. We have to move along with the world that is run transparently. That was not happening in India and that is why the players and the sport have to now suffer because of the FIFA suspension.
Goa Football Development Council Chairman Brahmanand Sankhwalkar said if elections are held transparently, FIFA will not take time to lift the suspension.