AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta, Jessiah Villavarayar of the Tamil Nadu state body and NA Haris, the Karnataka association chief who had first raised the issue at the February 5 Annual General Body Meeting in Mumbai, constitute the committee with the purpose of holding discussions with the legal advisors of the AIFF.
On Thursday, the AIFF wrote to the members asking them to inform them of their availability. While it was not yet clear who the convenor would be, or even its ambit, the committee is expected to submit its findings in a month’s time. “The committee is requested to hold discussions with the legal advisors of the AIFF. Please note that the mandate of this committee shall be 30 days as decided by the President in the AGM,” said the letter.
In the Mumbai AGM, AIFF president, Praful Patel faced opposition by members unhappy that elections had not been held since the last 14 months. In December 2020, with Patel’s term ending, the AIFF had moved Supreme Court seeking to stay on in office on the basis that since the constitution was suspended, any elections would be declared void.
Patel has already served three four-year terms – a fourth term would make him eligible to contest a spot in the FIFA’s Council, elections to which are due in April 2023. As senior vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation, Patel was last week in Abu Dhabi, attending the FIFA Club World Cup final between Chelsea and Palmeiras. The announcement of the committee back home, is being seen as a damage control operation by the long-serving president within the AIFF, a position he had seen little or no threat to. While members are welcoming the move, as they feel it could help provide much-needed transparency and clarity in the legal smokescreen that the AIFF brass has been pulling, others wonder over the ambit of the committee. “It is a welcome move, but all depends how open this committee is allowed to be,” said an official in the know of things. “Will they only seek advice from AIFF’s legal team or will other stakeholders and state members be consulted? The terms of reference need to be spelt out,” he said.