Indian FA allays fears over election sanctions

MUMBAI Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:44pm IST

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (C) shakes hands with Praful Patel, the President of All India Football Federation, after a news conference in New Delhi March 9, 2012. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (C) shakes hands with Praful Patel, the President of All India Football Federation, after a news conference in New Delhi March 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/B Mathur/Files

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's soccer federation elections do not violate any regulations and there is no risk of any sanctions being imposed either by FIFA or the government, a leading official with the authority told Reuters on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the Indian Olympic Association for selecting a tainted official at its December 5 elections held in line with the controversial government sports code.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) elections, being held later on Thursday, would be held as per the Indian FA constitution and it also did not violate the government's sports code, the official said.

"As far as the main clauses of the sports code are concerned, we are not violating them at all," the official, on condition of anonymity, told Reuters by phone.

"Neither our president nor our treasurer have exceeded two terms and both of them are below the age of 70 (as required under the sports code)."

Much maligned by national federations, the sports ministry introduced a set of guidelines, or sports code, in 2011 to limit the age and tenure of administrators in India.

Failure to abide by the code has resulted in government de-recognition, which basically means an end to state funding.

Earlier this week, an Indian court instructed the AIFF to adhere to the sports code while holding its elections during Thursday's annual general meeting.

"We have no apathy towards the sports code, we are not averse to it," the official, one of the five AIFF vice presidents, said.

"If it is possible for us and does not make us violate FIFA's or our own constitution, we don't have a problem."

The Indian sports ministry recently de-recognised the national archery and boxing federations for not conducting elections under the code.

The AIFF official did not rule out a crisis in future, saying the sports code went against the FIFA constitution, which does not have any age restrictions for contesting elections.

"We are following our own constitution which falls in line with FIFA's constitution. That is the prime requirement and we have followed that properly," he said.

"We have to be very careful. FIFA has no age restrictions and they do not want any government interference. There has been many cases where FIFA have banned federations."

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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