Why India has been suspended by FIFA – “Everyone has failed. This is a mess’

You may not have noticed, but the proportion of the world’s population living in a FIFA member country has just fallen by about 20 percent.

This is because India, home to 1.4 billion people, has been temporarily suspended from international football.

Last week, FIFA said the All India Football Association (AIFF) had been banned after “flagrant violations of FIFA laws” due to “undue influence from third parties”. The decision was made unanimously by the Bureau of the FIFA Council, composed of President Gianni Infantino as well as the presidents of each of the six confederations.

On Monday, India’s Supreme Court handed control of football in the country from interim administrators to FIFA officials in a bid to fix the problems.

Insiders are confident the ban will not last long but chaos engulfs administrative circles in New Delhi and beyond, with the country’s plans to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in October under grave threat.

the athlete Talk to experts in Indian football to explain what is going on and what might happen next.

“This issue has been going on for the past four years,” explains Mihir Vasavda, a journalist with The Indian Express. He says the saga began when the Indian government set new rules for sports federations in the country.

The new law – the Sports Act – is designed to address allegations of shoddy management in sports bodies, which has been plagued by allegations of corruption.

“Some of these associations had people in charge for over 20 years and they ran them like fiefs,” says Bradhum Reddy, a former football player who now works as a television analyst. “People between the ages of 75 and 80. Many of them have no knowledge of the sport they run.”

India did not qualify for the men's or women's World Cup (Image: Getty Images)

India did not qualify for the men’s or women’s World Cup (Image: Getty Images)

Under the new law, the country’s Supreme Court dissolved the AFC in May and appointed a three-member panel after Prafull Patel, a 65-year-old professional politician and MP for the National Congress Party, completed three terms as president in December 2020 but he He remained in the position.

This led to FIFA’s intervention due to its rules prohibiting “political interference” by national governments.

“They thought FIFA were just threats,” Vasavda adds. “It started on a simple thing where the constitution should be reformed.”

Indian government officials are now scrambling to meet FIFA’s criteria for overturning the suspension after FIFA ruled that arbitrators from the Indian government had overridden the suspension.

“The arbitrators tried to do a lot,” Reddy says, adding that the panel tried to introduce ambitious rules such as providing equal representation from each country as well as recruiting former players.

“They should have known that FIFA would oppose,” he says, adding that Benin, Kuwait, Nigeria, Iraq and Pakistan have all been similarly punished in recent years.

FIFA says the ban will be lifted when “the AFC administration regains full control over the day-to-day affairs of the association”.

Although the situation is not difficult, the status quo in the IAFF was also unacceptable, Vasavda says, arguing that “the public perception of the IAFF was terrible”.

He adds that one of the greatest problems with football in India is that the nation’s clubs have little say in how things are run, despite being a major revenue driver.

Given the sheer size of India’s population, the country is far below its weight on the international stage. The men’s team has never reached the finals of the World Cup and rarely qualifies for the Asian Cup. The women’s team also struggled, never making it to the World Cup finals and last playing in the Asian Cup in 2003.

India men’s team recent results

Date Competition Discount result




3-0 loss




2-0 loss


Asian Cup Qualifiers


2-0 win


Asian Cup Qualifiers


2-1 . win


Asian Cup Qualifiers

Hong Kong

4-0 win

Indian football journalist Arka Bhattacharya said that, in a way, things have gone backwards, given the rich history of football being played in the country. For example, the Durand Cup – the country’s largest domestic cup competition – is the oldest existing club tournament in Asia and the third oldest in the world, after the FA Cup and the Scottish Cup.

Bhattacharya says cricket only advanced before football as the public’s favorite sport in the past few decades. India’s victory in the 1983 Cricket World Cup was a turning point that helped cricket explode as the primary sport for spectators in the country, with the Indian Premier League now becoming one of the most lucrative sporting events in the world.

Although the population of the country is huge, it is of no use to FIFA if few people actually play the sport, as China has also witnessed in its attempt to become a heavyweight player in football.

Reddy points to the fact that Uruguay has a population of only 3.5 million, lower than many Indian cities, but it is a footballing powerhouse, two-time world champion and ranked 13th by FIFA.

Meanwhile, the population of Kosovo—whose team of men is ranked 106, after India by two places—is about 0.1 percent of India’s.

The current FIFA Men’s World Ranking

Team classification population



6.8 pm

Trinidad and Tobago


1.4 pm



53.8 m

New Zealand


5.1 m



1.4 B



27.7 pm



1.9 pm



1.2 m



9.5 pm

In some of the 36 Indian states and provinces, there are no established football leagues or frameworks at all.

“In the last two decades, we have seen a decline in the quality of Indian football. We have had a very poor performance at the international level in terms of results,” says Bhattacharya. “People are more interested in Premier League clubs and Spanish clubs than Indian clubs.”

He says the country is cornered at 22. There is little interest in the game because the quality is low, but it’s hard to improve the quality without the big crowds and TV money that games like this bring.

For a brief period in mid-2010, the Indian Premier League actively promoted “high profile signings”, which led to the relocation of Alessandro del Piero, Nicolas Anelka and Roberto Carlos to the country. Now there are a few foreign players but no names that are familiar to the European public.

Nicolas Anelka, among other stars, played in Indian Premier League mid 2010 (Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images)

Experts also point to a series of embarrassing missteps that have decimated the local game in recent years.

For example, the country hosted the 2022 Women’s Asian Cup – the continent’s equivalent of the European Women’s Championship – earlier this year. But the Indian team’s COVID-19 bubble was breached and they reported multiple infections, resulting in them losing their place in the tournament they were hosting.

The AIFF was also mocked when it was reported that large sums of money had been spent on the astrology agency to “motivate” the team.

More seriously, the women’s under-17 national team coach was sacked from a tour after a sexual misconduct scandal. The coach in question denies the allegations against him.

Young women’s football is in the spotlight once again as the country is supposed to host the U-17 World Cup in seven years weeks. It’s an incredibly embarrassing timing given India’s suspension from FIFA.

India is supposed to host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup (Image: Getty Images)

India is supposed to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup (Image: Getty Images)

All experts believe the suspension will be lifted soon, which could enable India to host the tournament, but the reputation of the country’s football managers has taken another blow.

The more days passed, the more problems. Gokulam Kerala played a match in the Asian Club Women’s Football Championship in Uzbekistan this week but cannot meet it because – as it is now – it does not represent a member country of FIFA.

ATK Indian Premier League player Mohun Bagan has a match on September 7 in the continental competition which they will not be able to meet unless the ban is lifted.

And the longer this goes on, the more significant the Indian football crisis will be.

“Everyone has failed on all levels,” Vasavda says. “It is very poorly managed. It is a complete mess.”

(Top image: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP via Getty Images)

Via theathletic.com

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