It’s been after almost one and-a-half years since he suffered a resounding defeat in the presidential elections of All India Football Federation (AIFF), that Baichung Bhutia has spoken. Soon after attending the executive committee meeting last Tuesday, the Indian football icon demanded the resignation of current president Kalyan Chaubey – and his words had an immediate impact in football fraternity of the country.
Much like his famous sense of opportunism inside the penalty box, the 47-year-old footballer-politician’s timing has been pitch perfect. After raising an air of optimism last year, Indian football seem to be back to square one after drawing a blank in the AFC Asian Cup as well as the Hangzhou Asian Games – while the unceremonious sacking of the erstwhile general secretary Shaji Prabhakaran reflected a divided house in the federation.
‘’I maintain what I said at the meeting at the other day that Chaubey and treasurer Kipa Ajay should also resign rather than just getting rid of Prabhakaran. What is this talk of mistrust when ahead of the 2022 elections, they were all together in the fight against the previous regime,’’ Bhutia said.
Prabhakaran, the high profile secretary general, was sacked on November 7 – barely two months after the Chaubey regime completed their first year in office with fanfare. The Delhi High Court ordered an interim stay on his sacking on 8 December and in their last order on 19 January, it noted that he was sacked by the AIFF’s emergency committee, whereas only the executive committee held the power to sack the general secretary – a protocol which was completed in 30 January meeting with Prabhakaran virtually present.