Indian football hit by a FIFA ban seemed a real possibility on Tuesday after the commercial partners of the sport’s governing body in the country approached the Supreme Court over controversial clauses in the draft constitution. Many state associations and Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), the marketing partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) that lead the Indian Super League (ISL), have both filed separate applications for intervention in the highest court, the main point of contention being which between the I-League and ISL would be the best league in the country. The FSDL stated in its petition that the SC-appointed Committee of Trustees (COA) “did not consider” its objections and also “rejected” certain suggestions.
The case will go to court on Thursday.
A FIFA-AFC team, which visited the country last month to take stock of the situation after the SC ousted the office holders led by Praful Patel, had set strict deadlines to hold elections by September 15.
The clause regarding the country’s main men’s league states that the league will be run by the AIFF with promotion and relegation.
Although not stated in so many words, it is clear that the clause referred to the AIFF-run I-League as the top-tier league in the country, something that didn’t go down well with FSDL, as the product ISL was recognized as the top-tier league in October 2019 by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The ISL has no promotion and relegation.
The petition for intervention states that the petitioner is required to sue the highest court if “certain exclusive rights and claims” granted to the petitioner under a long-term agreement — Master Rights Agreement dated December 9, 2010, are “totally ignored and violated under certain provisions in the proposed constitution of the AIFF”.
“It is the applicant’s humble argument that the Committee of Trustees has failed to take into account and even rejected certain substantive suggestions and objections to the AIFF’s Articles of Association made by the applicant herein.
“In addition, the said provisions are also against the development and promotion of football in India,” it added in its application.
The state associations, represented by a seven-member panel, had previously written to FIFA that several clauses of the final draft constitution drafted by COA were discriminatory and illogical.
At a meeting between the state’s COA and FAs, Goa supported the I-League as the top division as Representative Joaquim Alemao and Valanka Alemao represent I-League club Churchill Brothers.
Most other state units opposed the draft clause to place I-League over ISL.
With the FSDL and state units objecting to more than 20 points, the country is likely to be banned by the world football association FIFA.
The FSDL pays Rs 55 crore annually for rights and licenses to run the ISL.
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