Indian football is in danger of being isolated because the international governing body FIFA is that powerful and its regulations must be followed. The Supreme Court may have established a measure of control over the BCCI because the ICC, beholden to Indian cricket for its financial sustenance, would not intercede. The governance of Indian football, always in thrall of politicians in power or out of it, has been such a sham as to have allowed two politicians to run it for more than three decades now.
The need of the hour is to bring in radical reforms in football administration. Even India’s top court must realise that FIFA’s writ runs through 211 countries and it supports a democratic election process everywhere while imposing a model code to administer the game. Football can flourish only under the tutelage of the world governing body.
This is no time for the Committee of Administrators to insist on former footballers having the largest say in election reforms because they are not day to day administrators of the sport. The CoA must comply with FIFA regulations for the ban to be lifted so that events, including FIFA’s Under-17 women’s World Cup, slated to be held this year, can proceed in India.
Politicians might have the power and / or charisma to get elected to top sports administrative bodies but they must ensure the federations and associations that they may head adhere to rules and regulations. Too many sports associations, including the IOA and Hockey India, have floundered because of internal personality politics as top administrators attempt to cling on to keep their sphere of influence going.
Modern sport runs on the strength of television rights fees and Indian football, ranked at a historically high 105, needs the money to keep running. Reforms are needed so that the running of the sport will not be endangered. It is to be welcomed that the top court has asked the Centre to ensure that everything is done to resolve the issue and make Indian football compliant with FIFA regulations.