The All India Football Federation (AIFF), on Friday, got a former player as its first president for the first time in its 85-year history. Kalyan Chaubey won against the legendary Bhaichung Bhutia in the election and got the coveted post. Chaubey, who is 45 years old and a former goalkeeper with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, won by a landslide margin of 33-1. The result was expected as former captain Bhutia did not have many supporters in the 34-member voters’ list made up of state association representatives.
The ‘Indian football great’, who is also 45 years of age, could not even get his state association representative as proposer or seconder for filing his nomination papers. Chaubey, a BJP politician who lost the last parliamentary election for the Krishnanagar seat in West Bengal, never played for the India senior team though he was in the squad quite a few times.
He, however, played for India in age-group International tournaments. He was also a former goalkeeper at both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. Of note, Bhutia and Chaubey knew each other as they were teammates at East Bengal.
Karnataka Football Association president N A Haris, who is a Congress MLA, swept the election for the lone post of vice president, beating Manvendra Singh of Rajasthan FA. Arunachal Pradesh’s Gopalakrishna Kosaraju of Andhra Pradesh lost to Kipa Ajay of Arunachal Pradesh for the post of the treasurer.
Kosaraju and Manvendra proposed and seconded Bhutia. All the 14 candidates who had filed nominations for as many executive committee members’ posts were elected without any opposition.
Chaubey graduated from Tata Football Academy in 1995 and became a professional football player through a proper grass-root system. He played as a goalkeeper and won the award – “Indian Goalkeeper of the Year” – in 1997–98 and 2001–02. He was member of the Indian teams at U-17 Asian Youth Championship 1994 in Iran and U-20 Asian Youth Championship 1996 in South Korea in 1996, the senior Indian national team from 1999 to 2006.