Can Bhaichung Bhutia shoot past Kalyan Chaubey in AIFF polls? | Football News

PANAJI: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) will have a former footballer as president for the first time in its 85-year history, but it won’t be without a fight. Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has upset plans of the state associations who met on Wednesday night and formed its own ‘panel’ with goalkeeper, and now BJP leader, Kalyan Chaubey as its unanimous choice for the top post.
Twenty-eight state associations representatives met in the Capital to finalise the executive committee and chose Chaubey as the presidential nominee. But before the former India goalkeeper could file his nomination on Thursday morning, Bhutia walked inside the AIFF headquarters and submitted his papers, backed by Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Besides the two former footballers, no other nomination is expected for the president’s post.
“I deserve this chance and I am capable of getting Indian football back on track,” said Bhutia, India’s second-most capped footballer after Sunil Chhetri. “My life has been football. I got Arjuna (award) and Padma Shri because of football, and this is a great opportunity for all of us. Right now, it’s a mess. Football needs good reforms and management.”
Bhutia, 45, the first Indian footballer to play 100 international matches, will be up against the might of Chaubey, a former India goalkeeper who represented nine clubs and five states during his career.
“If given an opportunity, I will try and see that football is taken to the next level,” said Chaubey. “Football has huge potential in India. Whatever recognition I have received in the society, it’s because of football. But there is lots to be done.”

Chaubey is understood to enjoy plenty of support within the state associations and won’t be unduly worried with Manvendra Singh, president of Rajasthan FA, walking out of the meeting, or Andhra Pradesh switching allegiance.
Within the state associations group, there was a ‘contest’ for the vice-president’s post which was settled through voting. NA Haris, a Congress legislator and head of Karnataka State Football Association, pipped Telangana’s GP Palguna for the nomination. Kipa Ajay (Arunachal Pradesh) and Gopalakrishna Kosaraju (Andhra Pradesh) will contest for the post of treasurer.
There were 13 nominations for the 14 executive committee members post on the first day. All nominations are from the Chaubey group with the final member, Dilip Singh Shekhawat (Rajasthan), being withdrawn after he signed Bhutia’s papers.
Both Bhutia and Chaubey have pledged support to state associations as part of their election campaign. While Bhutia said he would have a separate budget for state associations and support them financially, and technically, to “make sure that leagues are happening,” Chaubey has mooted a Football House in each state.
“There is a need for each state to have an adequate office, infrastructure and staff where planning and policy-making can happen,” said Chaubey.

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