New Delhi: : Football legend Bhaichung Bhutia on Friday filed his nomination for the post of President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in the upcoming elections but the former player’s road will not be easy as several candidates with political backing are in the fray.
Apart from the former footballer-turned-politician, there are also politicians in the fray who want to join sports administration. Apart from this, people who have been playing the role of sports administrator for a long time also aspire to occupy the top post in AIFF.
The deadline for filing nominations ended on Friday. These long-pending elections are to be held on August 28.
Former captain Bhutia’s name was proposed by his national teammate Deepak Mandal and supported by ‘distinguished women’s player’ Madhu Kumari.
However, for Bhutia’s success, it will be necessary that the former players are not excluded from the voter list. The rules of FIFA, the game’s global governing body, do not allow former players to be voters. The picture will be clear after the Supreme Court hearing on this issue on Monday.
Bhutia’s biggest challenge will come from former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal goalkeeper Kalyan Choubey, who is the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal.
As a footballer, Choubey does not give any competition to Bhutia but his name has been proposed by Gujarat Football Association and approved by Arunachal Pradesh which shows his influence.
India’s two tallest politicians (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah) are from Gujarat while Arunachal Pradesh is the home state of former sports minister and current law minister Kiren Rijiju.
In the race for the president’s post is IFA (West Bengal) president Ajit Banerjee, who is the elder brother of West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. Had he not got permission from the party leadership, he would not have entered the fray.
The third footballer and the youngest candidate in the list is 36-year-old former India midfielder Yugenson Lyngdoh who is now an MLA. He represents the United Democratic Party, the major regional party in Meghalaya.
Lyngdoh, who played for India with Sunil Chhetri, entered active politics when his father passed away and won the election from Mawphlang constituency.