Friday, June 02, 2023

Andhra football body chief shoots letter to PMO flagging 'illegalities' in AIFF

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | May 02, 2023 06:01 PM

NEW DELHI:The President of Andhra Pradesh Football Association, Gopalakrishna Kosaraju, has written a letter to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), seeking its direction to the Department of Sports to conduct a detailed inquiry into the alleged illegalities in the All India Football Federation (AIFF), particularly on the reported collusion between the AIFF and the Saudi Arabia Football Federation for India's withdrawal from biding for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup men's football championship.

"India along with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were the final four bidders for the AFC Asian Cup which is scheduled to be held in 2027. But AIFF President Kalyan Choubey and General Secretary Shaji Prabhakaran illegally and unilaterally withdrew from bidding without the approval of the Government of India and the AIFF's general body or executive committee. The withdrawal creates doubts that the President and General Secretary colluded with the Saudi Arabia Football Federation to benefit them in hosting the AFC Asian Cup," Kosaraju wrote in the letter which has been accessed by IANS.

He added: "The decision to withdraw from bidding for the AFC Asian Cup by the Indian federation will create a very bad reputation before the world and will hamper the prospects of the country in future biddings, including for the Olympics, Asian Championships of various sports, including Football."

When contacted, an official of the AIFF told IANS, "I would like to bring to your notice that the decision to withdraw India's bid for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup was taken with the full approval of the AIFF executive committee on December 5, 2022. The AIFF, immediately after taking the said decision, had issued a press release where it had clarified its position."

The AIFF executive committee had said then in a statement, "Our current focus is building the foundations for proper footballing structure before thinking of hosting big events like the AFC Asian Cup."

AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey had also issued a statement in the same press release, saying, "India has always been a wonderful and efficient host of big tournaments, which was amply demonstrated in the recently-concluded FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. However, the executive committee has decided that the overall strategy of the federation currently remains on focusing on the fundamental goals to strengthen our football at every level, from grassroots to youth development."

In the same release, AIFF General Secretary Shaji Prabhakaran had said, "Our strategy is very simple. We must focus on developing the game on a priority basis, before planning to host major international competitions. Hosting competitions requires big resources and sometimes encourages the tendency to take the major issues away from our focus. Right now, our focus should be to take Indian Football forward together."

The AIFF official also termed Kosaraju's allegations as 'motivated' with 'malicious intentions'.

The official concluded by saying that since December last year, more than one executive committee meeting of the AIFF has been held, both physically and virtually.

"No member in any of these meetings had questioned the decision to withdraw India's bid for the AFC Asian Cup, as the decision was unanimous. To raise the topic after five months, in our humble opinion, is an attempt to stir up a controversy, which actually does not exist," he said.


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