Goa football clubs face de-recognition over registration issues

The latest issue threatens to disrupt the thriving football community, putting the future of many beloved local clubs and tournaments planned in jeopardy

Representational photo of a football practice match in Goa (photo: FC Goa/X)
Representational photo of a football practice match in Goa (photo: FC Goa/X)

NH Sports Bureau

Goa is not just a picturesque state on India’s western coast, renowned for its stunning beaches and vibrant culture — it is also a state with a deep-seated passion for football.

This fervour for the sport runs through the veins of Goan society, with football being a significant part of the local culture and community life.

However, in a significant development, more than 60 clubs are now at risk of de-recognition by the Goa Football Association (GFA) if they fail to comply with mandatory registration requirements under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

On 21 May 2023, local Goan media reported on how the registration issue threatens to disrupt the thriving football community, jeopardising the future of many beloved local clubs. GFA president Caitano Fernandes explained the urgency of this mandate, stating that clubs must register to avoid operational difficulties.

The GFA and Sport Authority of Goa (SAG) have put in place stringent requirements that include detailed documentation for annual audits, election records and meeting minutes, all of which poses a challenge for many clubs seeking renewal of their registration.

Clubs must also ensure that no other entity — not just another sports club — shares their name.

As the latest issue threatens to disrupt the thriving football community, putting the future of many beloved local clubs and tournaments planned in jeopardy, affected clubs are calling for government intervention to streamline registration and avoid penalties.

Without registration, the clubs cannot organise tournaments or hire referees affiliated with the GFA, jeopardising their activities.

The Herald in Goa reported that a three-month extension has been granted for compliance, despite no fixed deadline having been announced. The GFA has communicated with all clubs affiliated with both the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) and the GFA, underscoring the necessity for registration under the Societies Registration Act and the SAG.

Currently, out of approximately 195 clubs, 130 have completed their registration process, leaving around 65 clubs at risk of being derecognised.

In response to these challenges, over 40 of the clubs from South Goa have jointly approached law minister Aleixo Sequeira for his intervention. Their memorandum highlights the significant difficulties encountered, including delays and challenges with technical scrutiny.

Anthony Pango of the Snows Football Academy, who is also the GFA vice-president for South Goa, expressed optimism that these issues would be resolved promptly, emphasising the critical nature of this situation for both permanent and temporary status clubs.

New clubs, in particular, have voiced concerns over delays by the registrar of societies (RCS), which has stalled their registration processes. Existing clubs requiring renewal also fear that continued delays could result in lapsed registrations, further complicating their operations.

GFA vice-president (north) Jonathan de Sousa mentioned a recent meeting with the law minister, who had assured support once all the necessary documents are submitted and promised to expedite processing.

Former deputy chief minister and Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai said, “It is unacceptable that 60 Goan football clubs face de-recognition if they fail to register under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. With major hurdles in documentation and audit details, clubs are struggling to comply. This move threatens Goa’s state sport, reflecting a larger campaign against Goa and Goans.”

The Herald quoted a source within the GFA who said that about 86 clubs in both North and South Goa are struggling with registration-related issues. These clubs need to provide six years' worth of financial accounts, show proof of having held regular elections and file documented meeting minutes to fulfil the mandatory requirements.

South Goa district registrar Suraj Vernekar clarified that the clubs must have at least seven members to register and renew their registration every five years. He noted that the clubs not complying would incur an annual fine.

The urgency for compliance is clear, as the GFA and SAG push for adherence to regulations to ensure the smooth functioning and governance of football clubs in Goa.

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