The All-India Football Federation has started the election process to be freed from the FIFA ban. Nominations began and ended on Friday. The August 28 election, however, is only a week away, and there are still more questions than answers surrounding the election.
Two big names as candidates
Among the presidential aspirants who submitted nominations, the biggest name is undoubtedly Bhaichung Bhutia. Ever since FIFA expelled the Football Federation (AIFF) last Monday, one of the greatest players of Indian football has been expressing his desire to fight for the presidency. But it is one thing to perform magic on the football field and another to succeed in electoral politics at the administrative level. So even if Bhaichung is the biggest name or the crowd favorite, he is not the frontrunner in this AIFF selection process, standing on Friday, to say the least.
On the other hand, another former player is ahead in the election field even though he is behind as a footballer. Kalyan Chaubey played as a goalkeeper for two big clubs. According to sources, central BJP heavyweights (read Shahi Ashirvad) are with him. Kalyan is already in Bengal BJP. Fought in the election. It is heard that he has submitted the nomination papers with the approval of the ‘High Command’.
Zero political restrictions
In the amended constitution directed by the Supreme Court, the entry of persons directly connected with politics into the cricket board has been banned. Before Sharad Pawar became the president of the board, he became the head of the ICC but now Anurag Thakur can no longer be on the board. There are no such restrictions in football yet, so Kalyan Chaubey has a free field.
The fact that Kalyan submitted his nomination from Gujarat is most indicative. The two main political heavyweights of the country are in Gujarat. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. According to informed sources, “submitting nominations from Gujarat means everything is said without being said.” It is heard that calls have already been made to influential officials of several state organizations for the former Kolkata goalkeeper.
Just as it is heard that Gujarat’s support for Sourav Gangopadhyay in the cricket board elections was immense, will the same happen in the football elections? Although it should be noted here that Sourav was not a flag bearer of any political party. Kalyan is a direct representative of the BJP party.
Arunachal Pradesh has made Kalyan’s candidate position ‘second’. Just as Gujarat evokes the Modi-Shah duo, Arunachal is the state of former Sports Minister, current Law Minister Kiren Rijiju. No state body has proposed Bhaichung’s candidature. As Gujarat has done for Kalyan. According to the FIFA-sanctioned selection process, players are still not able to freely participate in the selection process. They have to come as state representatives.
Bhaichung’s name was suggested by former footballers, not a state. He also submitted the nomination as a ‘former footballer’ and not as a representative of a state body. So whether his nomination will be accepted in the eyes of FIFA, there are complications.