New Delhi: The Sports Ministry has requested FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to allow Indian clubs – Sree Gokulam Kerala FC and ATK Mohun Bagan – compete in the tournaments as scheduled despite the ban on the All India Football Federation (AIFF). With FIFA suspending AIFF late Monday, there was chaos as Gokulam Kerala women’s team had already reached Uzbekistan to participate in their second AFC Women’s Club Championships.
The women’s team are scheduled to compete against a team from Iran August 23 and one from the host nation August 26 in Qarshi. On the other hand ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) are slated to play the AFC Cup 2022 (Inter-Zone semifinals) September 7 in Bahrain.
The Sports Ministry wrote an email to FIFA and AFC, apprising them of the fact that Gokulam Kerala are already in Uzbekistan when FIFA’s suspension of AIFF was announced.
“It has requested FIFA and AFC to therefore consider allowing the team to play in the AFC Women’s Club Championship (West region) in the interest of the young players,” the Sports Ministry said in a release.
The ministry said that it has also ‘reached out to the Indian embassy in Uzbekistan to extend assistance to the team in all possible ways. The ministry is also in constant touch with Gokulam team’s management’.
Following the news of the ban, Gokulam Kerala president VC Praveen had called up the Sports Ministry with the players standing by his side. The ministry had then promptly taken up the matter with the AFC, which offered the team an extension of 48 hours in Tashkent.
FIFA had Monday suspended India for ‘undue influence from third parties’. It also said the U-17 Women’s World Cup ‘cannot currently be held in India as planned’.
This is the first time AIFF has been banned by FIFA in its 85-year history, with the apex body saying there have been ‘flagrant violations of the FIFA Statutes’.