Former sports minister Sonowal could throw his hat in the ring

Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal could throw his hat into the ring in the All India Football Federation (AIFF) elections due later this month as a presidential candidate, sources say.

Sonowal, 59, who currently holds the Ports, Shipping and Waterways portfolio in the Union Council of Ministers and a former Union Sports Minister, has approached the Assam Football Association regarding a possible nomination for the AIFF polls. But nothing is official for the moment since it weighs the pros and cons. He also failed to get the green light from his party, the BJP, sources said.

“He (Sonowal) has approached the chairman of Assam FA regarding the AIFF elections, about the polls for the post of chairman,” a source from the Assam Football Association told PTI. “If he (Sonowal) is ready to run for AIFF President, we will surely support him. But, it is not official yet. He has not told us finally that he wants to run for the post of president of the AIFF,” he added.

Under the draft AIFF constitution, anyone who is an Indian citizen and member of the Electoral College can contest for the office of President in the AIFF elections. Sonowal, a member of the BJP’s Rajya Sabha, served as Union Sports Minister for two years from May 2014 before becoming Assam’s Chief Minister from 2016 to 2021. He also served as Chairman of the Assam Olympic Association.

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) that runs the sport in the country has already appointed the returning officer for the AIFF executive committee elections on August 28 after the Supreme Court gave the green light on August 3. the AIFF election calendar prepared by the CoA.

According to the Supreme Court order, the returning officer will prepare the final voters list comprising representatives of 36 state associations and 36 representatives of prominent football players – 24 men and 12 women. Nominations can be filed from August 17 to 19 by candidates and delivered to the returning officer in person or by mail. Candidates can withdraw their name between August 22 and 24.

The returning officer will prepare the final list of candidates on August 25 and the elections will take place three days later. The counting will take place on August 28 and 29 and the results will be announced. The CoA includes Justice (retired) AR Dave, former Chief Electoral Commissioner SY Quraishi and former India captain Bhaskar Ganguly. Some of the former players had backed former captain Bhaichung Bhutia to run for AIFF President.

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