The suspension of All India Football Federation by the world governing body of the sport, FIFA, has strongly hit ATK Mohun Bagan, which was scheduled to play the inter-zonal semifinals of the AFC Cup in the first week of September.
Reacting to the situation, the secretary of the Mohun Bagan Club, Debasish Dutta, implicated the former committee of the AIFF for bringing the situation to its current state.
“It is a black day for Indian football and those who are responsible for bringing the sport in disrepute should be penalized. The previous committee in power in AIFF did not conduct the elections in time because they just wanted to cling to power,” Dutta said.
“It is not only about ATK Mohun Bagan missing the opportunity of doing well in the AFC Cup but it is also about Indian football suffering the disgrace of being suspended,” Dutta said.
The previous committee under the presidency of Praful Patel completed its term in December 2020, but remained in office on an interim basis for almost 17 months before being removed by the Supreme Court in May 2022.
“As far I can remember, the CoA appointed by the Supreme Court to formalise the new constitution did submit the fully drafted constitution in January 2020 but the AIFF committee did not make any move to adopt the new constitution and simply sought extension when its term was coming to an end in December 2020,” Dutta said. “The Supreme Court will be hearing the matter tomorrow (August 17) and we hope that it will do something to restore order,” he added.
The same fate has befallen the under-17 women’s World Cup, which was supposed to be held in October this year. The FIFA letter announcing the suspension of AIFF clearly mentions that the “FIFA under-17 Women’s World Cup scheduled to take place in India on 11-30 October 2022 cannot be held as planned and that the resulting next steps will continue to be assessed and referred to the Bureau of the Council if and when necessary.”
The former Indian captain and one of the biggest icons of the sport, Bhaichung Bhutia, said that the suspension provides an opportunity to Indian football to get its house in order.
“It is very unfortunate that FIFA has banned Indian football. It is a very harsh decision. At the same time, I feel it is a great opportunity to get our system back in place. It is time that all the stakeholders — the AIFF, the state associations and the Sports Ministry — come together and get the system right,” Bhutia said after the suspension was announced.