New Delhi: FIFA has suspended the Indian Football Federation. This means that the Women’s Under-17 World Cup cannot currently be held in October. According to FIFA rules, federations must be free from legal and political interference. The AIFF is in turmoil and is run by administrators as its former chief, Praful Patel, has remained in office beyond his term, new elections have not taken place and the court has ruled it void.

New elections are set to take place on August 28, and the voting process began last week after India’s Supreme Court approved a timeline drawn up by administrators. The U-17 tournament is due to take place in India from 11-30 October, but FIFA said on Monday that it “currently cannot be held as scheduled in India” due to the suspension. FIFA said it was “constantly in constructive communication with India’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and looks forward to a positive outcome on this matter.”

The Indian men’s and women’s national teams are also barred from participating in junior or senior international matches during the suspension. Former men’s captain Baichung Bhutia said the suspension was “very severe”. “At the same time, I think it’s a great opportunity to get our system right,” he told Indian sports news outlet Sportster. It is very important that we come together to get the system right and that everyone works to improve the sport.”

India’s captain Sunil Chhetri recently advised his players to “not pay too much attention” to the threat of a FIFA ban as the situation spiraled out of control. “The suspension will be lifted when the decree establishing a management board to take over the powers of the Association has been rescinded and the AIFF administrators have full control over the day-to-day operations of the AIFF.” – AFP

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