Andhra Pradesh finally elects a football body

Hyderabad: After more than a decade of factional infighting littered with court cases, Andhra Pradesh, which has produced doyens of Indian football in the past, will finally have a governing body after elections of its office bearers were held under the supervision of the national federation.

A three-member Committee comprising Ch Ramesh (Sports Authority of AP), Prof K Ranga Rao, Vice President of Andhra Pradesh Olympic Association and Ghulam Rabbani, Member Executive Committee of AIFF conducted the elections yesterday here under the supervision of Justice (Retired) T Ch Surya Rao of High Court of AP as Returning Officer.

"While there was no contest for the posts of President, Vice-Presidents (three posts) and the Secretary-cum-Treasurer and Assistant Secretary, voting by secret ballot took place for three posts of the Joint Secretaries (for which there were four nominations," the AIFF said in a release.

Dr Mohd Ali Rafath, an IAS officer, was elected president while G P Palguna, who headed one of the two factions in the long wrangling, was made the Secretary-cum-Treasurer.

According to an AIFF official, who was involved in the electoral process, said that the polls were held under the Constitution of the APFA of 2002.

"Under the AIFF Constitution, we formed a three-member committee and appointed a retired High Court judge as returning officer to conduct the elections. The electoral college had 52 voters -- two each from 22 districts and eight other representatives of clubs, institutions, etc.," he said.

The AIFF called a meeting of the two factions in July 2010 and they agreed to hold elections within six months. But the bone of contention was the list of voters.

The faction led by Anis-ul-Mulk wanted to include life members and other special members in the voters list but the AIFF rejected it and notified to hold elections.

"They (Anis-ul-Mulk factions) went to a local civil court against the notification of the AIFF. But the court dismissed the petition of Friday (October 4) paving the way for the elections," the official said.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das welcomed and congratulated the office-bearers.

"The contribution of Andhra Pradesh in Indian Football is immense. It was such a pity that Andhra football has been dead for so many years due to petty ego problems and politics. I hope we will now be receiving full cooperation from the newly elected body for the promotion of the sport in Andhra Pradesh and Indian Football in general. My congratulations to all the office bearers and we are delighted to get back Andhra Pradesh as a recognised Member Association," he said.

Das also lauded the efforts AIFF Advocate Ajit Upadhyay and the AIFF AGS Administration Col. Mehta for their perseverance in ensuring that the right process was followed and that all existing legal cases were appropriately handled.

Football in the state has been suffering for some years after the infighting between two factions began in 2000 over who should run the Andhra Pradesh Football Association and court cases were filed by both factions.

Andhra Pradesh was not allowed to field teams in the tournaments organised by the AIFF from 2006 onwards and the state which has produced stalwarts of India`s golden period in football has been languishing for the past some years.

The state has produced Olympians like Peter Thangaraj, D Kannan, Tulsidas Balaram, S S Hakim, Fortunata A Franco, S H Hamid and the celebrated coach S A Rahim.