AIFF’s new Technical Committee gives birth to controversy

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All India Football Federation on Thursday has announced the new Technical Committee alongside other sub-committes in the annual meeting of the executive body.

Legendary striker of the seventies-Shyam Thapa is elected the Chairman of the new AIFF Technical Committee giving authentication to the prevailing rumour in the Indian Footballing circuit for the last few days. He will replace Bhaichung Bhuttia in that role who surprisingly has not only been omitted from the Technical Committee but his name did not even came into consideration for once while forming the other committes in the meeting. Savio Messias is also excluded from the Vice-chairmanship.
The new AIFF Technical Committee looks like this:

●Chairman- Shyam Thapa
●Vice-chairman- Henry Menezes
●Honorary members- Prasanta Banerjee, Abhishek Yadav, Ishfaq Ahmed, Sundar Raman, CP Phalguna, Pradip Dutta.

Shyam Thapa is widely considered as one of the greatest and most acrobatic strikers ever seen in Indian Football. The Dehradun born bicycle-kick expert said on his appointment,”I will first have to know what my exact role is going to be”. He added,”I want to work for the development of football in the country.”.

Shyam Thapa finally getting the recognition from AIFF

The new committee also boasts another legend from the yesteryears-Prasanta Banerjee who said to ABP, “Bengal has at last got recognition. There are three members in the committee from Bengal. Now, none can say that the state is neglected.” Former East Bengal Player Pradip Dutta is also a member of the committee.

CP Falguna, the President of the Telengana Football Association is included in the committee whose selection is seen as a surprising move by AIFF. Sundar Raman, the Sports Management graduate from Asutosh College of Kolkata and the CEO of I-League is a prominent presence in the committee.

Among the recent footballers, Abhishek Yadhav and Ishfaq Ahmed were given the nod ahead of many others. The selection of Ishfaq, who played for ‘The Three Giants’ of ‘The City of joy’ and was also seen as the player cum assistant manager in the Kerala Blasters dugout side in last season’s ISL is an interesting and wise move. Belonging to Kashmir, he can play a pivotal role in the development of football in this region which is neglected through generations but has great potential as a potential future epicentre of the game in the land. Lonestar Kashmir is in this year’s I-League 2nd Division who have a golden chance to become the first club from Kashmir to play in the I-League.
Besides the Technical Committee, several other committees and sub-committees were formed as well in the meeting. One noticeable thing was the constant and abundant presence of the IMG-R personnel in several committees.
The following are the IMG-R people elected in different sub-committees:

●Legal Advisory Committee- Vandana Gupte, Sundar Raman
●League Committee- Chirag Tanna, Rochak Langer
●Competitions Committee- Devang Bhimjyani
●Futsal and Beach Soccer Committe- G Srinivasan
●Development Committe- Yas Pateley
●Women’s Football Committe- Swati Kothari
(Babu Mather and Pradip Chowdhury are in the Players Status Committe while Ves Paes is in the Sports Medicine Committee among the Non-IMG-R people).

But all these news got subsided by the news of the axing of the ‘All in all’ of Indian Football-Bhaichung Bhuttia from the whole scene. Reports suggest that the dipping relationship between the AIFF President and the Sikkemese Sniper off late as a consequence of several recent incidents has resulted in the total exclusion of the FPAI Chairman from the whole process.

It has been a result of a period long activities and not an overnight decision. Bhuttia was the Personal Advisor of President Praful Patel and was also paid a sum of INR 2 Lakhs per months for his role but the allegations are he hardly ever attended the meetings and was rarely seen in the U17 camps of India ahead of the all important FIFA U17 WC to be held in October. All these resulted in Bhuttia being removed from his advisory role a few months ago which was the first hint of the falling scales of temperature in the relationship between the former Aviation Minister and former captain of the Blue Tigers.

The saga reached its climax when AIFF selected Portuguese Luis Norton De Matos as the U17 coach of India while the vote of the committee led by Bhuttia which also consisted IM Vijayan was for former junior team coach British Colm Toal. Previously Bhuttia also openly criticised AIFF’s decision of sacking Nicolai Adam few months prior to the U17 WC which the hierarchy of the elite body of Indian Football did not take positively.

Just few days ago there was also a protest in Kolkata by a united forum of ex-footballers against Bhaichung Bhuttia’s domination in Indian Football and his care-free attitude. Personalities like Subrata Bhattacharya, Tarun Dey, Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Karthik Seth among many others raised their voice against Bhuttia and AIFF’s hypocrisy and lame policies. Shyam Thapa was also in that meeting.

The sunny days are seemingly over

All these have compounded to this decision of Bhuttia’s omission from the hotseat. Rumours from the Football House also say that Patel was concerned realising Bhuttia’s increasing prominence in several football bodies and also considered him to be potential threat to his presidential throne in near future and as a result this is purely a political and tactical move from the seasoned NCP leader.

Although the Bhaichung Bhuttia issue has been the hot-topic of Indian Football circuit but AIFF has taken some innovating steps also to promote the game throughout the country. They have talked about the inception of a ranking system of the states based upon their footballing performance. Although it has many potential demerits and setbacks but it is considered to be a step forward.

AIFF Football House in New Delhi, the centre of attention

AIFF President Praful Patel said in the meeting, “Our immediate mission is to make the U17 WC a success. For that we have to take necessary steps. We have to work unitedly to promote the game throughout the country.”

Nice words maybe but the ghost of Bhaichung Bhuttia is not leaving Mr. Patel soon!