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Indian Football Administrators File Contempt Petition Against Ex-AIFF Chief

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The Committee of Administrators (CoA) currently running football in the country has filed a contempt petition against ousted AIFF president Praful Patel for “interfering with the proceedings” of the Supreme Court which last week ordered elections to the national federation. In the contempt petition, the CoA said Patel “conducted a meeting of the 35 Intervening Member Associations (state associations of the AIFF) with the express purpose of interfering with the proceedings of this Hon’ble Court…” The petition also attached transcripts of the said meeting, which was conducted over Zoom at 11 am on August 8. It said they have “interfered with the administration of justice by committing gross contempt of the orders” passed by the top court.

The petition made the plea to bar Patel “from participating in and holding any football related posts forthwith, including and not limited to positions in FIFA and AFC”.

It also requested the top court to initiate proceedings for contempt of court against the alleged contemners “for interference in the administration of justice, and the willful and flagrant disobedience of orders … and punish them with maximum penalty in accordance with law”.

Along with Patel, the virtual meeting was attended by IFA (Bengal football body) chairman Subrata Dutta, Delhi Football chief Shaji Prabhakaran and five others, who form the seven-member committee to represent the state associations of the AIFF in the negotiations for the drafting of new constitution.

All seven of them have also been made contemners along with Patel.

If the contents of the transcripts submitted to the top court are proved, it will bring out in the open the murky dealings of Indian football, which have long been talked about in hushed tones.

“…in the said meeting he has impliedly admitted to having arranged for the 05.08.2022 letter from FIFA-AFC,” the contempt petition filed by former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi, on the behalf of the three-member CoA, said.

“Mr Praful Patel with the State Associations clearly shows the foul intention to interfere and obstruct the elections that are to be held as per the timeline and direction of this Hon’ble Court.” World football governing body FIFA had on August 5, in a letter to the All India Football Federation, threatened to ban India for third party interference and take away the U-17 Women’s World Cup after the Supreme Court ordered elections to the AIFF by including 36 former players in the electoral college.

The elections are to be held on August 28 and the CoA has already appointed the Returning Officer for the polls.

Patel is currently a member of the powerful FIFA Council.

Referring to the transcripts of the proceedings of the meeting, the CoA said “some government officials have had discussions with the State Associations that they would file a Review Petition supporting the State Associations and then the Associations could follow.” “Exactly as discussed in the Meeting, the Union of India has now filed an Application for Modification before this Hon’ble Court and which it seeks to mention before the Court on 10.08.2022 followed by the States who have filed their application,” it said.

The petition also said that the “government has been misled by the state associations, as have FIFA-AFC who are ignorant of the duplicitous role being played by Mr Patel”.

“CoA has come to learn that the very State Associations who were before this Hon’ble Court had given their consent in fact approached some individuals in the Union Ministry with a copy of the FIFA-AFC letter (threatening India of ban) 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.” On Tuesday, the sports ministry had moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its August 3 order concerning elections for the executive committee of the AIFF and inclusion of ex-players in the electoral college saying FIFA and AFC have “strong reservations in the member structure of AIFF”.

Further referring to the transcripts, the CoA said in the petition: “All directions and decisions, including about convening the next meeting, are by Mr Praful Patel.

“The repeated admission by Mr Patel that ‘the purpose of the letter was to help the State Associations’ reveals that it had been arranged at his behest to interfere with this Hon’ble Court’s orders,” the petition said.

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“The statement by Mr Patel that ‘I will come to know what FIFA is thinking also … and what AFC is thinking’ reiterates his active role to push India towards a suspension by hiding the true facts from FIFA and AFC,” it said.

“The seven authorized representatives of the State Associations who have sworn affidavits in this Hon’ble Court have played a critical part in the meeting and have been dispatched to do the bidding of Mr Patel.”

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