Sudden death: the Hindu editorial on the management of sports bodies and judicial intervention

Overzealous judicial intervention is no response to poor governance of sporting bodies

Overzealous judicial intervention is no response to poor governance of sporting bodies

The suspension of the Indian Football Federation (AIFF) by world governing body FIFA represents a depressing low in the annals of Indian sports history. The collective euphoria over the nation’s fine showing at the Commonwealth Games had not yet subsided when FIFA on Monday night waved the gavel citing “undue interference by a third party”. The third party in question was the Indian Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Trustees (CoA), formed in May to temporarily assume charge of the AIFF and finalize a new constitution after the previous executive committee was deemed to have overstayed. its mandate. The bone of contention was the CoA’s decision to give players 50% representation – with voting rights – on the new AIFF executive committee, on par with the state associations. FIFA’s recommendation was 25% and it duly suspended the AIFF, much to the chagrin of the CoA, which said on Tuesday that common ground was about to be found. The Court has now instructed the Union Government to engage with FIFA to break the impasse so that India does not suffer the ignominy of losing the hosting rights of the U-Women’s World Cup. 17 in October. In addition, India’s international friendlies, its clubs’ participation in international competitions – Gokulam Kerala FC in the AFC Women’s Club Championship and ATK Mohun Bagan in the AFC Cup – and funds development of FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation are all under threat.

It can be argued that the CoA was overzealous in what, on the face of it, appeared to be a good faith attempt to make players equal stakeholders in the AIFF. But what is undeniable is the role of the former AIFF establishment, led by President Praful Patel, in triggering the crisis by retaining power well beyond the 12-year term sanctioned by the National Sports Development Code of India, 2011. Violation of standards regarding membership, age limits and terms of office as prescribed in the Sports Code is rampant in Indian sports; table tennis, hockey and judo were all placed under court-appointed administrators in 2022. The Delhi High Court on Tuesday placed the Indian Olympic Association under a CoA, relying on the order of the Supreme Court in the AIFF case. If one has to knock on the doors of the upper judiciary to enforce a government-mandated code adopted for the general welfare and health of sport, this indicates a deplorable situation. At a time when India is diversifying its sporting culture and producing new champions, it can ill afford administrators who bring discredit to the very game of which they claim to be guardians.

To read this editorial in Tamil, click here.

To read this editorial in Hindi, click here.

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