New AIFF advisor Shabbir Ali says ‘better days here for football’

Indian football recently received a shock when its international governing body FIFA, issued a suspension order on the All India Football Federation (AIFF) due to what FIFA called “undue influence by third parties in the functioning of the AIFF which constitutes serious violation of the FIFA statutes.”

The trouble started in May 2022 when the Supreme Court of India relieved the then AIFF President, Praful Patel, of his post and replaced him with a Committee of Advisors (CoA) headed by former CEC S Y Quraishi. This CoA, after consultation with different units of the AIFF, submitted a draft of the new constitution of the AIFF to the Supreme Court. But now those state units who were dissatisfied with the draft constitution opposed the move. In the process of all these discussions and negotiations between the state units and the CoA and the Supreme Court, the deadline that FIFA had set for resolving the tangle, lapsed. Even then FIFA waited for 15 days beyond the deadline and when the matter had still not been resolved, FIFA issued suspension orders of the AIFF on August 16.

The decision, although not unexpected, shocked all football followers, players and fans. But luckily the bombshell galvanised all concerned parties into action. The government as well as the AIFF agreed to all of FIFA’s terms and conditions and the FIFA, after examining the situation, seemed satisfied and lifted the suspension order.

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The AIFF duly conducted its elections which resulted in Kalyan Chaubey, a former footballer, being elected as the President. Shaji Prabhakaran, a former regional development official of FIFA, got the job of Secretary and a new Executive Body was constituted. For the first time two persons from Hyderabad (Telangana Football Association) are holding important posts in the AIFF. One is EC member G. Paulguna and the other is former India captain and Dhyan Chand award winner Shabbir Ali who has been unanimously named Chairman of the Advisory Committee.

For the first time, six former and eminent players have been made part of the advisory committee. For the post of Chairman, Shabbir Ali was the perfect choice.

“It is a great honour for me and I will strive to do my utmost to improve the functioning of Indian football in the future,” said Shabbir Ali when he was contacted by

“As you know I have been involved in coaching and have never lost touch with the game even after I retired as a player and as a coach. I am the President of the Abbas Union Football Club which was the club that I myself used to play for many years ago. I still retain all the passion and perseverance for football that I had when I was a beginner,” explained Shabbir Ali.

“I am grateful to the state government for its support and to the Sports Authority of Telangana State (SATS) Chairman Shri A. Venkateshwar Reddy. One thing we must all realise and that is that strength comes from unity. We all have to work together to bring back the glory of Indian football and Hyderabad football. Hyderabad used to be the nursery of Indian football. All the talent was supplied by Hyderabad. But where is it now?” questioned Shabbir Ali.

“I sincerely hope the dark days of AP football are over. Now we can only go up. The victory of the Hyderabad Football Club (HFC) in the ISL will encourage footballers in this region. The emergence of Srineedhi academy will also go a long way to develop talent from the Telangana-Andhra area. My only wish is that the government and corporate bodies should come forward to recruit footballers and thereby give players the opportunity to earn a salary by excelling in their sport,” said Shabbir Ali.

“When I was a coach in Goa, I saw how well the corporate bodies had organised themselves to promote football. I had coached Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata and in Goa I coached teams like Salgaocar and Churchill Brothers (run by former Chief Minister Churchill Alemao and his brothers). Why cannot Telangana-Andhra have teams sponsored by companies as in Goa. At one time throughout India there were such teams. Dempo and Vasco in Goa, JCT Mills in Punjab, Mahindra and Mahindra in Mumbai and many others. We must function like that again,” said Shabbir.

“I want India to go forward. At one time we were the best in Asia. So we can begin by aiming for Asian supremacy. But the mindset must change. When I was captain of India, we were joint winners with Iran for the Asian Youth championship. That was the last time that we won a trophy at the All-Asia level.  Thereafter we have won titles only in the SAARC region. But regaining our lost prestige is not so far out of our reach. That confidence has to be created in the minds of the players and those who train them. We must aim big then only can India hope to reach the standard that it once had,” concluded Shabbir Ali.

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