Cracks appear in AIFF as it sacks secretary-general Prabhakaran
‘Breach of trust’ cited as the reason as dismissed official alleges conspiracy in emailed rejoinder
Barely two months after celebrating their first year in office, cracks have begun to appear among the top brass of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) with the sacking of Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, the high-profile secretary-general, on Wednesday.
An AIFF press release says: "’The AIFF hereby announces that the services of Dr Shaji Prabhakaran have been terminated due to breach of trust with immediate effect as of November 7, 2023. The AIFF Deputy Secretary, M. Satyanarayan, will take charge as Acting Secretary General of AIFF with immediate effect.’’
The allegations of ‘breach of trust’ have not been elaborated, but reports say AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey and some of the executive committee members were not happy with the way Prabhakaran was discharging his responsibilities. The announcement comes a day before the executive committee meeting on Thursday.
Shaji, meanwhile, has hit back with a mail to the AIFF alleging conspiracy. ‘’As per the AIFF constitution, it is the executive committee that can only dismiss or terminate the General Secretary. Thus this termination has no constitutional validity and approval of the executive committee and I must say that there must be some conspiracy behind the decision which I am not able to understand.
"I must say that this is an irresponsible decision at a time when the AIFF governance matter is under discussion and scrutiny. I have worked with 100 per cent honesty and I have not made any decision that was bad for football in India and the fact is that I did not interfere in the decision of the judicial bodies for which I was pressured,’’ his rejoinder says.
Asked whether such a decision would have to be ratified first by the executive committee, AIFF vice-president NA Haris told PTI: "’The post of the secretary-general is a paid post and he was not appointed by the executive committee. The president has the power to appoint and remove the secretary-general. So the president issued the termination letter."
It was on 2 September 2022 that the current dispensation took charge with Chaubey, backed by the ruling BJP at the Centre, routed former India captain Baichung Bhutia in the annual general meeting to become the new AIFF president.
The past year has been an eventful one for the AIFF, with the launch of the ambitious 'Vision 2047', victory in back-to-back international events in June-July, and the national team's international fixtures like the 2026 World Cup qualifiers and the Asian Cup finals coming up.