AIFF Election | Kalyan Choubey defeated Bhaichung Bhutia to become the first Player President

All 14 candidates who filed nominations for the posts of Executive Committee members were unanimously elected.

All 14 candidates who filed nominations for the posts of Executive Committee members were unanimously elected.

It was always expected to be an easy victory for Kalyan Chaubey, but even by the standards of the Indian sports administration, he was thrashed 33-1 by All India Football Federation president Bhaichung Bhutia on Friday.

Chaubey, the 45-year-old former East Bengal and Mohun Bagan goalkeeper, became the first player in the AIFF’s 85-year history to become president. Having joined the BJP a few years back, he also failed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but with massive political support, was considered a frontrunner for the post.

And while he insisted his success had nothing to do with his political affiliations – “My identity as a footballer is undeniable first and foremost,” he declared at an impromptu press meet – he did not deny the patronage he enjoyed. “Say one federation at any level that doesn’t have political support,” he asked, the answer being clear to all.

Interestingly, with just one vote for Bhutia from the valid 34-member electoral college, the former national captain could not even collect votes from his supporters who had apparently proposed and reinforced his nomination.

As the 14 members of the executive committee were elected unanimously, only three main seats were contested, with Karnataka’s NA Haris defeating Manvendra Singh 29-5 for the post of vice-president, while Arunachal Pradesh’s Ajay Kipa defeated Gopalakrishna Kosaraju 31-2. He will be the treasurer. Bhutia said he would continue to be part of the AIFF administration as a ‘prominent player’ member of the executive committee. Six players – four men and two women – will be co-opted to complete the 23-member EC.

Bhutia left soon after the result was announced, but insisted that his association with the management of the game was not over. I hope Kalyan will take Indian football forward. I was working with football even before the elections and will continue even now,” he said.

Chaubey, meanwhile, made the right noises about working together towards realistic goals and selling dreams. “We can all agree that Bhaichung’s contribution to Indian football is matched by few and we welcome him (in the EC). Everyone who can contribute will be taken together to move forward as a united team,” he said, despite being conspicuous by his absence.

Elaborating on the immediate future of the newly-elected EC, Chaubey announced that he had spoken to FIFA president Gianni Infantino and would present a short-term plan on September 7, with the first formal meeting to be held in Kolkata on September 17-18. . “Along with prominent footballers including Shabbir Ali, IM Vijayan and Climax Lawrence, we hope to provide a realistic roadmap for Indian football after 100 days. Everyone wants India to play in the World Cup, but we have to plan how to go about it and the direction it should take,” he added.

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