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FIFA-AIFF Row: Sports Ministry seeks participation of Indian clubs in AFC tournaments

FIFA-AIFF Row: Sports Ministry seeks participation of Indian clubs in AFC tournaments

Earlier this week, FIFA had suspended AIFF with immediate effect due to “undue influence from third parties”.

Sports Ministry wants FIFA and AFC to allow Indian clubs to play as per schedule. (Pic: Reuters) Sports Ministry wants FIFA and AFC to allow Indian clubs to play as per schedule. (Pic: Reuters)

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has reached out to the International Football Federation (FIFA) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to allow Indian clubs, Sree Gokulam Kerala FC and ATK Mohun Bagan, to compete in the tournaments as per schedule.

In an email to FIFA and AFC, the ministry highlighted that Sree Gokulam Kerala FC was already present in Uzbekistan when FIFA’s suspension of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was announced. It has also requested both the federations to reconsider allowing the team to play in the AFC Women’s Club Championship (West region).

“Before the FIFA suspension of AIFF was announced, Sree Gokulam Kerala FC had already reached Uzbekistan, ahead of its scheduled matches against a team from Iran on August 23, and one from the host nation on August 26 in the southern Uzbekistan city of Qarshi, while ATK Mohun Bagan is slated to play the AFC Cup 2022 (Inter-Zone semifinals) on September 7 in Bahrain,” the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Sports Ministry has even reached out to the Indian embassy in Uzbekistan to extend assistance to the team in all possible ways. It is also in constant touch with the Gokulam team management.

Earlier this week, FIFA suspended AIFF with immediate effect due to “undue influence from third parties”. The suspension implied that the Under-17 women’s World Cup, which was scheduled to take place in India from October 11-30, cannot be held in the country as planned.

Prior to that, 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 which have been pending for 18 months.

In response, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation sent a team led by AFC General Secretary Windsor John to meet stakeholders in Indian football and laid down a roadmap for the AIFF to amend its statutes by the end of July and subsequently, conclude elections by September 15.

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