As the sudden suspension of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) by FIFA has sent shockwaves across the country, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who is a football lover himself, on Tuesday, August 16, expressed regret over the matter and slammed those whose negligence led to this ban. He also came down heavily on former AIFF president Praful Patel, accusing him of using the sports body as a political weapon, and stated that Patel should apologise to the nation.
Speaking exclusively to Republic Media Network, N Biren Singh said, “It is very unfortunate. I want to appeal to my Indians, that we politicians should not get involved in these wars. We know how football has become big and popular in India, and then suddenly this kind of action taken by FIFA because of some of our negligence and our irresponsible people, it is highly condemnable. From my side, I want to appeal to immediately reconstitute as per the FIFA constitution, and for that, we may host the U-17 Women’s World Cup in India.”
‘Stop politicising sports’: Manipur CM Biren Singh
When asked about AIFF’s former president Praful Patel’s alleged role in FIFA banning India, the Manipur CM said, “These people are spoiling Indian sports. I can say this as a football lover, that these people are responsible for spoiling sports in this country. We should take proper action against him, and ask FIFA to immediately cancel proposals by Praful Patel and to bring it to his personal level and not at the level of FIFA. I am really shocked by this news as now India too is becoming a football lover in the entire world. The cancellation of our hosting FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 is very shameful.”
The Manipur CM’s comments come on the back of a letter by AIFF, in which the governing body had elaborated on how Patel had told FIFA that the Supreme Court’s intervention may be a ‘third-party intervention’. Praful Patel was relieved from AIFF by Supreme Court in May 2022, as he had completed the maximum permitted tenure of 12 years as per the Sports Code.
Responding on whether there is a possibility of regaining a chance to host the U-17 Women’s World Cup, Singh explained, “We have to do all out to host the World Cup. We have learned a lesson and we should warn some opportunistic people who have always tried to use sports associations as a political weapon. We must stop it and send a strong message from 114 million people to them to stop politicising sports.”
FIFA suspends AIFF
FIFA on Tuesday suspended the All India Football Federation with immediate effect for “undue influence from third parties” and said the U-17 Women’s World Cup “cannot currently be held in India as planned”. India was scheduled to host the FIFA event from October 11-30.
“The Bureau of the FIFA Council has unanimously decided to suspend the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with immediate effect due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes,” FIFA said. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear the matter related to FIFA suspending the All India Football Federation.