Bhaichung Bhutia submits his nomination for position of AIFF President
In spite of the fact that former player Kalyan Chaubey has established himself as the front-runner in the race for the top position, the great Bhaichung Bhutia on Friday submitted his nomination for the position of president in the forthcoming All India Football Federation (AIFF) elections.
Former national teammate Deepak Mondal made the proposal for ex-captain Bhutia, and Madhu Kumari seconded it. Kumari is a "eminent" player in the electoral college. "I have filed my nominations as representative of eminent players. In the wake of the SC decision to allow players I hope the players can have a chance to serve Indian football. We want to show we can be good not only as players but also as administrators," Bhutia told PTI.
Shaji Prabhakaran, the president of Football Delhi, has also submitted his application for the position of president. Former footballer Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Ajit Banerjee, the brother of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, have also submitted nominations through the Meghalaya Football Association.
Currently, Lyngdoh is a member of the Meghalaya legislative assembly. On Friday, the deadline for submitting nominations expires. Like his legendary contemporary Bhutia, Chaubey, a former goalie for India who has played for both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, seemed to be in the lead for the top position.
Although Chaubey is a member of the governing BJP, the Gujarat FA and the Arunachal Pradesh football association have both supported his nomination. While the nation's home minister is from Gujarat, the law ministry is led by Kiren Rijiju, an Arunachal native.
On August 28, there will be elections for the AIFF executive committee. The fact that Chaubey entered the race as a regular candidate may help his cause because FIFA, which oversees international soccer, is against the country's top body being led by prominent athletes.
The Committee of Administrators (CoA), which oversees football in India, decided to hold the elections for the sports organization without granting vote rights to "eminent" players as requested by the international governing body hours before FIFA banned AIFF earlier this week. FIFA on Tuesday grounded India for "undue influence from third parties" and stated that the U-17 Women's World Cup "cannot now be conducted in India as planned," which was a major loss for the nation.
The Supreme Court had ruled that the 36 state associations and 36 prominent football players—24 men and 12 women—would make up the electoral college for the AIFF's executive committee. The athletes should have retired from international competitions two years previous to the announcement of the polls and played at least one international match for India.
The previous captain Bhaichung, 45, is regarded as one of the finest footballers in the nation and is known as the "Sikkimese Sniper" for his goal-scoring skill. The affable striker was the first footballer from India to appear in more than 100 games for his country. After participating in the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar and making his debut in 1995, he decided to end his career in international football a few months later. In addition to spending a short time with English team FC Bury, he had a distinguished career playing for notable Indian clubs including JCT, East Bengal, and Mohun Bagan (1999 to 2002).