Former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey has been elected as the new President of the All India Football Federation, defeating former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia 33-1 in polls decided by a 34-member voters’ list comprised of state association representatives.
Chaubey, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader from West Bengal, is the first former national team player to be elected to the governing body of Indian football. The election results follow a dark period in Indian football, with the country facing a temporary ban from FIFA due to a classic case of third-party interference after the Supreme Court appointed a Committee of Administrators to run the day-to-day operations at AIFF.
Second most capped India player of all time
While Bhutia’s participation, as a premier football figure in the country and the second most capped India player of all time, brought the election to the forefront, his opponent was seen as a favourite due to his political experience. The 45-year-old ran in and lost the Krishnanagar general elections in 2019.
Bhutia had said while announcing his candidature, “I run a football club, I have been in state association in Sikkim for the last six years, I have had the exposure of playing in England, I am in constant touch with some of the world’s top footballers, I started Indian football players association – only football has a players association with proper rules in place (in India).”
“Congratulations to Kalyan, I hope under him we’ll be able to take Indian football forward. I have been working in football before the elections, I’ll continue after it too,” he said after the announcement. The former India international left midway while the counting for vice president and treasurer was still going on and has confirmed that he will be a part of the AIFF executive committee as an eminent player.
He further added, “I run a football club, I have been in state association in Sikkim for the last six years, I have had the exposure of playing in England, I am in constant touch with some of the world’s top footballers, I started Indian football players association only football has a players association with proper rules in place (in India).”
With FIFA lifting the ban, Chaubey’s task is now greater than ever to restore administrative normalcy as India prepares to host the U-17 Women’s World Cup in October.