EXCLUSIVE AUDIO TAPES: FIFA Bans India, Did Praful Patel Plot This In Advance?

Amidst a row over the letter “arranged” by former Indian football chief and NCP leader Praful Patel on the FIFA ban, two purported audio tapes created havoc in political as well as administrative circles on Tuesday

NEW DELHI | Updated: 17 August, 2022 7:10 am IST

NEW DELHI: Amidst a row over world’s ace body for football management, FIFA, announcing a ban for the All India football federation (AIFF), two purported audio tapes have created havoc in political as well as administrative circles

The two audio tapes, accessed exclusively by The New Indian, reveal a man —- purportedly former AIFF chief and National Congress Party (NCP) MP Praful Patel — instructing the people about the ban threatened by FIFA on Indian football.

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The audio tapes point to a conversation over the review petition in the Supreme Court challenging the interim committee of administrators (CoA) of AIFF can also be heard.

In the first clip, in one place, the man in question is heard telling at least seven odd members during a call, “… election should remain the same…only thing is no players, no individual members…. Only the 36 people who are supposed to be members of the individually elected committees, so be it, that is fine.. because again without elected committee, FIFA will not give you the World Cup (FIFA will not allow U17 world cup to be held in India in October) also..”

The man almost predicts the decision that FIFA will strip India the right to host the under-17 Women’s World Cup, which is scheduled for October. Incidentally, it was the first time in their 85-year-old history that AIFF had been banned by FIFA and it took such a decision on Tuesday.

The man, in the audio, goes on, “My suggestion is first you do this and based on the review petition (in the Supreme Court challenging the formation of interim committee) we will try to talk…. I will come to know what FIFA is thinking also.. and AFC is thinking.. so by 10th or so I will see the evening of 11th (August) we will try to talk again. I will organise this meeting once again. Is that ok?”

Political opponents are asking if this is indeed NCP MP Praful Patel — Was he privately dictating terms to FIFA on how Indian football association behave unless he was made the chief again?

“Why did Praful do this? How did he say with with authority that he would come to know what FIFA is planning on August 10 & 11. He has put India position in jeopardy before the world. Was he angry that he was removed as AIFF chief or that NCP needed his clout in international market?” asked a former AIFF member.

Praful Patel, who served as a power minister in Manmohan govt between 2004-14, is already facing ED probe in multi crore aviation deals over allegations of undue favours and causing losses to national airlines.

 

“Can NCP led by Sharad Pawar wash hands off Praful? He served as All India Football President between 2009-22. Only two politicians, Praful Patel and Congress leader Priyaranjan Dashmunshi had held post of chief of All India football association….” a senior ex-member of AIFF said.

Despite repeated attempts by the New Indian, Praful Patel, however, could not be reached for comments. The disclosures come at a time when Patel has locked horns with Supreme Court appointed COA.

In the same audio, the man is heard addressing his colleagues..”the purpose of letter is to help you. I hope with this you can go and have an urgent hearing. And if the government and others support it, there can be a solution.”

He continues to egg on the rest of the members.

“So my suggestion is that all seven of you who have been discussing on behalf of all of us, talk to the lawyer, file a review petition or whatever needs to be done based on this letter that you have got,” the man then almost instigates the other AIFF members.

He then throws a clout and is heard making repeated references to FIFA letter which is yet to officially reach India over banning AIFF, raising questions how he managed to access the missive.

He’s heard saying”… you cannot file a review petition until you hear from the court. Now the court has given a judgement, based on that you take some facts from what that judgement says, based on to further the letter which FIFA, AFC gave to us yesterday night.. based on that you go and file a review petition… So now seven people, please discuss with the lawyer…”

Asking the members to make use of their good office with the government, the man again repeats, “And whoever… is very well connected in the government, please go and talk to the concerned people on Monday or as soon as possible.”

If if’s indeed Praful, it’s questionable how he was doing this while he was not the chief of AIFF. He was ousted by SC in May, raising more questions if he was doing this to hold onto a post.

Replying to a query by one state association official about whether FIFA will recognise an interim committee, the man said, “No, FIFA will not recognise an interim committee. And a committee which has to report to a committee of administrators, they will never accept.”

He then says, “FIFA will never recognise an interim committee. FIFA will not recognise a committee which has to report to a court-appointed administrative body. So all of you discuss with lawyers and then come with whatever the final decision about the writ petition.”

Patel has been accused of holding the charge of cash-rich AIFF for 15 years and stalling the elections. He had to leave his post, only after the intervention of the Supreme Court. The apex court also constituted a three-member CoA to run the sport in the country till the elections are held.

Last week, COA filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against Patel, accusing him of having arranged a letter from FIFA and AFC (Asian Football Confederation) threatening a ban on FIFA.

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On Tuesday, FIFA banned AIFF, citing “undue influence from a third party.”

After the decision of ban by FIFA, the COA termed the development “surprised” and “unfortunate”.

“The CoA is surprised that the FIFA decision has come when extensive discussions were going on for the past few days between all stakeholders, including FIFA-AFC, AIFF, the CoA and the Sports Ministry as per the Order of the Supreme Court,” the CoA said in a statement.

“In the discussions held among the FIFA-AFC, AIFF, CoA, and the Sports Ministry in the past few days, it was suggested that the present elections of the AIFF Executive Committee may be conducted with the Electoral College consisting of 36 state representatives,” CoA stated.

In light of the above, the CoA is surprised by the world body’s decision to slap the suspension on AIFF amid discussions going on among all stakeholders to find the best possible solution to the current situation.

The fact is that while the letter dated August 15, 2022, from FIFA stated that AIFF was being suspended from August 14, 2022, the discussions between the world body and all stakeholders in India were in full swing till late in the day on August 15, 2022.

 

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