Express press service
CHENNAI: Failure to adhere to the sports code by the National Sports Federations (NSF) has led the Delhi High Court to order the Ministry of Sports to withdraw monetary grants and serve a notice of suspension on all offending federations. If not resolved quickly, things could get complicated not only for the NSF, but also for the Ministry of Sports and the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
According to a ministry affidavit, 46 of these federations have been recognized as of May 2022. But lead lawyer and petitioner Rahul Mehra said all NSFs violate the sports code in one form or another. The FNS are to blame for not following the sports code but as the HC indicates, even the ministry is responsible for not taking action against the rogue federations. The ministry’s assertion that six federations, including Equestrian Federation of India, Golf Union of India, Rowing Federation of India and Yachting Association of India, should also be recognized due to their special nature was also cancelled.
The court accused the ministry of granting recognition without properly assessing NSF’s code compliance.
“There can be no discretion in spending money on entities that are not entitled to it by law,” the court had said Thursday. “Based on the aforementioned affidavit, the recognition of non-compliant NSFs should have ceased a long time ago. There is no room for other extensions. For whatever reason, the defendant (Ministry of Sports) failed to ensure compliance with previous orders. That an officer with the rank of joint secretary be present in court on the next date to assist in the case. »
The court found that there was no clarity as to which NSFs follow the sport code and which do not. “Obviously, there is no clarity or conformation as to which NSFs are fully compliant with the code of sport. Therefore, in view of the previous orders of 26.05.2022, 02.06.2022, it would be logical, prudent, legal and just that public funds not be spent on entities whose legal status is yet to be determined. As a result, no more money will be spent and no aid will be given to NSF until the next date (July 20 The court estimated that the entire compliance exercise can be completed within a month.
The court ordered the SAI to handle the athletes’ training and competition until the NSFs put their house in order. But things can get complicated. Since this is a court decision, the DSFs could benefit from the doubt on the part of the international federations (IFs), but it is possible that they see this as an attack on the autonomy of the DSFs. And there will be teething problems.
What are the consequences of suspension/withdrawal of recognition? According to the sports code, “Upon withdrawal of recognition, the NSF will cease to perform the functions of the NSF for the sport discipline concerned. It relinquishes the right to regulate and control sport in India, to select national teams and to represent India in international sporting events and forums. He will also become ineligible to use India on his behalf or to receive any benefit or concession intended for an NSF as set out in clause 3.6 of the National Sports Development Code 2011.”
Challenges during suspension
Interestingly, DTFs obtain funding through various SAI programs and not directly from the Ministry. They are not-for-profit organizations and the majority of DSF support funding is for training and competitions. And the amount is either paid directly to the SAI centers or where the athletes train in India or sometimes even overseas. Athletes also receive direct support through various programs such as the Target Olympics Podium (TOP) program. Even the expenses incurred for national and foreign coaches in national camps or attached to the teams are listed in the annual training and competition calendar (ACTC) and are borne by the NSFs. Other expenses for elite athletes are covered by the SAI-funded TOP program. Also, there are other programs under Special Area Games and Khelo India where the funding goes directly to the academies where these selected athletes train.
While organizing national and international events, funding goes to DSFs. Without it, DSFs would struggle to organize events. According to the February 2022 notification, traditional Indian high priority and Indian sports get Rs 51 lakh (Rs 17 lakh each for senior, junior and sub-junior nationals). Other sports get Rs 30 lakh.
DSFs also receive government funding when athletes compete overseas. Sometimes entrance fees, food and lodging, and per diems are turned over to FNS for distribution. Most of the time, part of the financing is done and the rest of the money is refunded after submitting the invoices. There have been occasions in the past where DSFs have even had to take out loans to send athletes overseas and repay once repayments have been made.
Sending entries from a handful of suspended federations is acceptable. But sending that many could be complicated. The selection process itself will be difficult as most federations have established selection criteria and the process has already started, especially for the 2022 Commonwealth Games from July 28 to August 8. If DSFs are suspended, what about the officials who would accompany the athletes? for the CWG? The lists have already been submitted for accreditation. Hopefully by the next court date, July 20, the court and the department will find a solution.
Sending athletes for international competitions can also become complicated. In any case, the International Federations have not withdrawn their recognition. All entries are sent by NSF and not by SAI. There may be occasions where FIs may object to registrations sent by the ministry because it could be considered government interference. It happened earlier and can happen again. We have already seen confusion reign in taekwondo.
As some federation officials have pointed out earlier and even now, who are the officials and coaches who accompany athletes to international competitions? There have been cases where officials from SAIs without much experience have been sent. With so many federations suspended, SAI may be forced to send officials with little experience.
Either way, the Committee of Trustees (CoA) is also not an answer. Take for example the case of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI). A well-run organization is going through a torrid time. From selection controversies where top players were overlooked to arbitrary player advisories, things are certainly not as they should be. Players even approach the field for selection issues. The long suspension of the Archery Association of India (AAI) has also shown that the CoA is not always the right answer.
Many would have realized by now that a large majority of NSF officials work on a voluntary basis. Payments to COA chairs and members will increase the burden on DSPs unless COAs take on the challenge of mobilizing resources for the sports they administer.
Although the court granted a month’s time to fix the wandering federations, that’s easier said than done. Changes cannot be made overnight. Making amendments to the constitution or electing/selecting members to the House takes time. Special general meetings usually have a notice period of 15 days, while notice of general meeting usually requires one month. We have to see how the DSF and the ministry put an end to this impasse.