The removal of Shaji Prabharakaran as General Secretary of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) led to a split in the leadership team in September 2022 and former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has called for elections as soon as he is accepted the new constitution.
Prabhakaran was removed from AIFF with immediate effect on Tuesday. “The All India Football Federation hereby announces that the services of Dr Shaji Prabhakaran have been terminated for breach of trust with immediate effect,” AIFF issued a media release on Wednesday evening without elaborating. Meanwhile, the AIFF release said.
The decision was taken two days before the executive committee meeting on Thursday.
“I am not surprised because there has been complete mismanagement in AIFF.” Bhutia said on Wednesday referring to Prabhakaran’s removal. “The way India’s Asian Games campaign was mishandled, the decision not to bid for the 2027 Asian Cup (since it was awarded to Saudi Arabia) are just two examples. Away from home, the men’s and women’s teams are also losing. The president, treasurer and vice president should also go,” Bhutia said over the phone.
Bhutia is a member of the executive committee as a notable player as he is the most capped retired footballer in India.
“Based on the new constitution, we need fresh elections to bring football back on track,” said the Bhutia who lost 1-33 to Kalyan Chaubey in the contest to be the AIFF President last year.
It is unlikely that Bhutia’s wish will be fulfilled this year. The constitution has been drafted by former Supreme Court judge L Nageswara Rao. As per the direction of the Supreme Court, objections have been listed and the matter has to be heard before it is confirmed.
But since matters related to AIFF are still in the Supreme Court, he should have been informed before the decision was taken to remove Prabhakaran, a lawyer said after the developments since the appointment of a committee of administrators to run AIFF in May 2022.
On Wednesday, Chaubey said that AIFF members were not happy with Prabhakaran’s performance.
“AIFF’s decision to end it upsets me. We were working as a team. To charge me with ‘breach of trust’ is a huge allegation. More on this later. I am still a servant of the beautiful game and I thank all of you who have supported me in my sincere endeavor for Indian football,” Prabhakaran said on X.
Prabhakaran also approached the executive committee. In a message on the AIFF WhatsApp group, Prabhakaran said the termination was “irresponsible.” Only the executive committee can “dismiss or terminate the general secretary”, he wrote. “Therefore this termination has no constitutional validity.” HT has seen the message.
“There must be some conspiracy behind the decision that I cannot understand,” the message says. As elected members, it is your responsibility to ask the chairman the right questions, “not for me but for the good of the game,” according to the message.
AIFF vice-president NA Harris told PTI that since Prabhakaran’s post is not an honorary one, the president can remove him.
Prabhakaran was appointed in September 2022 after elections in the AIFF. This happened after the Supreme Court terminated the term of the committee of administrators it had set up to run AIFF following the dissolution of the previous committee headed by Praful Patel. Along with Chaubey, vice president of NA Harris, Avijit Paul, a member of the executive committee who is also the head of the development committee and a member of the finance committee, Prabhakaran played an important role in the changing of the guard.
Prabhakaran is a former FIFA development officer and president of Delhi Football. Before moving to FIFA, he was AIFF’s director of national teams from 2004 to 2009 and the Indian Vision program from 2006-09. Prabhakaran holds a Phd in physical education and sports from the Laxmibai National Institute of Physical Education Gwalior where he defended a thesis on the state of football in India.
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