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AIFF Suspension: Govt requests FIFA to allow Gokulam Kerala, Mohun Bagan to play in Asia

FOLLOWING THE SUSPENSION of AIFF by FIFA over third party interference, the Indian government is actively involved in talks with FIFA to help resolve the situation.

Although the focus is on getting the suspension lifted and making sure the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup gets hosted in India as per schedule, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has also made an effort to safeguard the clubs who are facing the immediate negative effects of this suspension.

Gokulam Kerala FC, whose campaign at the AFC Women's Club Championship begins on 23rd August and Mohun Bagan, who continue their AFC Cup camapaing on 7th September, also stand excluded from their respective Asian tournaments. The MYAS, however, have sought an exemption from FIFA and AFC to allow them to play.

In a press release, the government said,

"In keeping with its athlete-first approach, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has reached out to both the International Football Federation (FIFA) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to allow Indian club sides, Sree Gokulam Kerala FC and ATK Mohun Bagan, compete in the tournaments as scheduled.

Before the FIFA suspension of AIFF was announced, Sree Gokulam Kerala FC had already reached Uzbekistan, ahead of its scheduled matches against a team from Iran on August 23 and one from the host nation on August 26 in the southern Uzbekistan city of Qarshi, while ATK Mohun Bagan is slated to play the AFC Cup 2022 (Inter-Zone semifinals) on September 7 in Bahrain.

In its email to FIFA and AFC, the Sports Ministry has highlighted the fact that Sree Gokulam Kerala FC was already in Uzbekistan when FIFA’s suspension of AIFF was announced. It has requested FIFA and AFC to therefore consider allowing the team to play in the AFC Women’s Club Championship (West region) in the interest of the young players. Meanwhile, the ministry has also reached out to the Indian embassy in Uzbekistan to extend assistance to the team in all possible ways. The ministry is also in constant touch with Gokulam team's management."

There have been rare instances in world football where a team has been given temporary exemption to participate in international tournmanets despite the national federation being suspended by FIFA.

In order to save the hosting rights to the U-17 World Cup, however, AIFF must be able to fully lift the suspension from itself.

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