India's football match against Singapore cancelled

In another fallout of FIFA's decision to suspend the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) for third-party interference, the Indian national team's friendlies with Singapore and Vietnam next month have been cancelled.

India were scheduled to face Singapore on Sept 24 before taking on Vietnam on Sept 27 at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.

The matches were crucial for India's preparation for next year's Asian Cup.

The Indian Express reported that Vietnam took the decision to cancel India's matches to avoid any "uncertainty".

"Vietnam did not want to risk losing out on matches during the crucial FIFA window. Given that there was no clarity on the status of AIFF, they chose to cancel the matches and begin their search for an alternate opponent," a source said.

India's coach Igor Stimac (above), whose contract renewal has yet to be confirmed, earlier this month expressed his happiness at playing Singapore and Vietnam. India are ranked 104th in the world, while Vietnam lie 97th and Singapore 159th.

Meanwhile, in a verdict that paves the way for Indian football's return to the international fold after a brief period of isolation, India's Supreme Court on Monday dissolved the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) it appointed in May to look after the daily affairs of the AIFF.

The Supreme Court order came after the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on Sunday filed an application seeking an end to the "mandate" of the CoA, among other things, so that FIFA would lift the suspension imposed on the AIFF.

The court also postponed the date of the AIFF elections, originally scheduled for Aug 28, by a week. It said the voters' list will consist of only representatives from state and union territory federations, thus excluding India internationals from the electoral roll, as proposed by the CoA but objected to by FIFA.

"The above directions are passed in modification of the previous orders to facilitate the revocation of the AIFF suspension and the holding of the Under-17 World Cup so that the prestige of the nation and ability of players to participate in international tournaments are not affected," the court said.

Since the suspension was announced on Aug 15, Indian Women's League champions Gokulam Kerala were barred from competing in the Asian Club Championship and there was a risk that India would be stripped of hosting rights for the U-17 Women's World Cup in October.

On Tuesday, the AIFF asked FIFA to lift the suspension. AIFF's acting general secretary Sunando Dhar apprised FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura of the court's ruling.

He said: "Since the conditions for lifting of the suspension stand satisfied, we request that an order to that effect be passed at the earliest for the AIFF to continue with the smooth running of football in India."

FIFA will soon take a final call on lifting the sanction against AIFF.

Indo-Asian News Service, Reuters

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