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BREAKING| Take Proactive Steps With FIFA To Lift AIFF Suspension & Ensure Hosting Of U-17 World Cup : Supreme Court To Centre

Sohini Chowdhury
17 Aug 2022 5:33 AM GMT
BREAKING| Take Proactive Steps With FIFA To Lift AIFF Suspension & Ensure Hosting Of U-17 World Cup : Supreme Court To Centre
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the Central Government to take "proactive steps" with the FIFA to ensure that India can get to host the Under 17 women's world cup and that the suspension of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is lifted.A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna and JB Pardiwala adjourned the hearing in the matter related to AIFF as per the Solicitor...

The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the Central Government to take "proactive steps" with the FIFA to ensure that India can get to host the Under 17 women's world cup and that the suspension of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is lifted.

A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, AS Bopanna and JB Pardiwala adjourned the hearing in the matter related to AIFF as per the Solicitor General's request in view of the "active discussions" between the Government of India and FIFA to resolve the issue.

When the matter was taken, Solicitor General of India informed the Supreme Court that the Central Government has taken up with the FIFA the suspension of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Saying that some "breaking of ice" has taken place, the Solicitor General requested the Supreme Court to defer the hearing till next Monday, to await the outcome of the discussions. SG Tushar Mehta further informed that the Committee of Administrators has also payed a constructive role in the discussions with the FIFA officials. 

"Yesterday itself Govt took it up as an issue. We had two meetings with FIFA. We have reached a stage. I must also say that CoA has played a very constructive role. There is some breaking of the ice which has taken place. I am requesting if this can be kept on Monday", the SG submitted.

Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra (who filed the petition before the Delhi High Court for elections to AIFF) submitted that the entire events have been orchestrated by the former AIFF President Praful Patel, who was ousted after the Supreme Court's orders.

"Some members of AIFF had stepped down and CoA took over and these members are orchestrating all of this. It is Mr Patel who has orchestrated this", Mehra submitted.

Saying that he is representing the Government of India and the prestige of the country, the Solicitor General said that the Court should "come down heavily on those who are interfering". 

Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the CoA, submitted that one football club from Kerala, Gokulam Kerala FC, has landed in Uzbekistan for the Women's Club Championship and their fate remains uncertain. He also said that ATK Mohun Bagan's AFC Cup fixture also remains uncertain. He urged the Solicitor General to write to FIFA officials regarding this.

"Yes, this is about the pride of the country", the SG said.

The Court adjourned the matter to Monday, accepting the request of the SG.

"We would impress upon the Union of India to take proactive role in the matter for holding the World Cup and so that lifting of ban on AIFF is facilitated", the bench stated in the order. 

The FIFA has suspended the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect citing "undue influence from third parties". This means that India will not be able to host the FIFA Under 17 Women's World Cup, which was scheduled to be held in October 2022.

In a press statement issued on August 16, the FIFA said that the suspension will be revoked once the order appointing the Committee of Administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee is repealed.

It may be noted that the Committee of Administrators was constituted under the orders of the Supreme Court in 2017 after the Delhi High Court set aside the election of former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel as the AIFF President. It had also appointed former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi and former Indian football team captain Bhaskar Ganguly as a committee of administrators to bring the AIFF's constitution in sync with the National Sports Code. In May 2022, the Supreme Court had appointed former SC judge Justice AR Dave as the head of the COA.

On August 3, 2022, the Apex Court passed directions for conducting elections for the AIFF Executive Committee ahead of the hosting of the U-17 women's world cup by India.

After that order, the Committee of Administrators moved a contempt petition alleging that Praful Patel was liasoning with FIFA to undermine the hosting of the U-17 women's world cup.

Last week, when the matter came up, the Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, sought adjournmnet saying that a meeting with FIFA was scheduled on August 11. While adjourning the matter as per Centre's request, the Court then made it clear that it will not hesitate to interfere if attempts are made to scuttle the hosting of the FIFA tournament by India.

The Supreme Court's orders came in the appeals filed by the All India Football Federation against the Delhi High Court's judgment in the case filed by Senior Advocate Rahul Mehta, who sought reconstitution of the sports body as per the National Sports Code with democratic elections.

Case Title : All India Football Federation versus Rahul Mehra | SLP(C) 30748/2017

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