The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Friday got a former player as its president for the first time in its 85-year history when Kalyan Chaubey trounced the legendary Bhaichung Bhutia in the election for the top post here.
The 45-year-old Chaubey, who played as a goalkeeper, emerged winner with a comprehensive 33-1 margin — a result that was expected as former captain Bhutia did not have many supporters in the 34-member voters’ list, made up of state association representatives.
Chaubey’s last two predecessors — Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and Praful Patel — were full-time politicians.
The ‘Sikkimese Sniper’, also 45, is one of the biggest legends in Indian football and his candidature had got the elections additional traction.
Chaubey, a BJP politician who lost the last parliamentary election for the Krishnanagar seat in West Bengal, never played for the India senior team though he was in the squad on a few occasions.
He, however, played for India in age-group international tournaments. He was also a former goalkeeper at Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, both heavyweights in Indian club football with a rich legacy.
The new executive committee comprises G P Palguna, Avijit Paul, P Anilkumar, Valanka Natasha Alemao, Maloji Raje Chhatrapati, Menla Ethenpa, Mohan Lal, Arif Ali, K Neibou Sekhose, Lalnghinglova Hmar, Deepak Sharma, Vijay Bali and Syed Imtiaz Husain.
Bhutia, I M Vijayan, Shabbir Ali and Climax Lawrence will be in the EC as players’ representatives.
‘State associations either succumbed to political pressure or financial accounting’
After getting defeated comprehensively in the AIFF polls, the president of Rajasthan Football Association, Manvendra Singh on Friday rued lack of support from other states, saying that the state associations have either succumbed to the political pressure or financial accounting.
“There are only two reasons why somebody will change their position. You know, there’s pressure because of political reasons. Or there’s pressure because of financial accounting. Think of any reason why somebody would change the position the way they change the position,” Manvendra told IANS.
Asked to comment on the results of the AIFF polls, he said, “This is a sad day for football in India. If a footballing icon like Bhaichung is getting defeated like this, you can understand where we are heading. And this kind of judgment is the reflection of why football is where it is. The same administrators had given a commitment that they would not allow any outside experience to come into football.” Manvendra said that public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favour of Bhaichung but he is still in shock at how the situation changed overnight.
“It is deeply disappointing. It’s a shame. It’s a shame on India and Indian football. Public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favour of Bhaichung and you know, this is reflected in the way people are pushing him along. But this is a bit of a poor reflection on football administration as a whole,” he said.