The legendary Bhaichung Bhutia on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court decision to remove the Committee of Administrators as it was done to “salvage” the U-17 Womens World Cup and ensure revocation of the FIFA ban on India.
The top court modified its earlier order to facilitate the holding of the womens age-group showpiece in India in October and revocation of suspension of All India Football Federation (AIFF) by the world governing body FIFA.
The CoA had been overseeing the affairs of the AIFF since the May 18 SC order.
“Todays SC decision was in the interest of Indian football and not for any party or the other. The first priority was the FIFA U-17 Womens World Cup, thats a prestige issue for India. The second is the lifting of the ban on India,” Bhutia said on the sidelines of the launch of Bangla Soccer League here.
“The priority for all of us — players, CoA, state associations — is to ensure the hosting of the (Womens U-17) World Cup and the ban is lifted.” A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna postponed the August 28 elections of the AIFF, which were to be held under the aegis of the SC-appointed three-member CoA, by one week to allow a changed electoral college and starting of nomination process.
The top court passed the order on an application filed by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports seeking modifications of an earlier order in view of the discussions with the FIFA.
Bhutia, a talisman of the national team during his illustrious career, had filed his nomination papers for the AIFF presidents post but, after Mondays Supreme Court decision, the whole poll process will start again.
He has also filed an application for intervention to the SC, making the plea that the top court should give full effect to its earlier order that 36 eminent players should have voting rights as part of the electoral college.
The top court, however, ruled that the voters lists for the AIFF polls would only consist of 36 representatives of State/UT member associations as is being sought by FIFA.
Asked if he was disappointed that the SC decision has left the ex-players out of the electoral college, the former captain said, “Yes, I had appealed that players should also be represented (in the General Assembly). But the priority at this moment is to make sure that the ban is revoked and U-17 Womens World Cup is held.
“The players will keep on fighting, keep on appealing to the federation, to the sports ministry and the Supreme Court that when the constitution of the AIFF is framed in future, the ex-footballers should also get voting rights. They can contribute in administration and decision making.
“For the last 75 years, we have not seen any footballer becoming president of not even a state association, leave alone the AIFF. The players have given their blood and sweat for the country.” The 45-year-old, who has played for more than 100 matches for India between 1995 and 2011, said there were a lot of great footballers who could have become great administrators.
“In future also, if you look at the players, the likes of Gurpreet Sandhu, Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan can also look to get into administration and not just coaches. “Its important to encourage ex-footballers to come into just not coaches but to administration also so that their voices can be heard to develop the game of football.” Bhutia welcomed the move to nominate six former players — four male and two female — in the executive committee of the AIFF.
“It is a welcome move but we want more than just being nominated members. We want to be members of the AIFF General Body and get voting rights.”
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