More power to the players may be the new slogan but some former footballers had to do quite some running to get their names on the list of  36 “eminent players” in the electoral college of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Why? Because the federation’s records of the number of international matches they played for India don’t tally with what the players say they have.
For example, NP Pradeep and Steven Dias, both of who played with distinction in India colours, had to make a case for themselves before they could earn the tag of “eminent player”.
In the backdrop of Monday’s Fifa ban, the former players may not be able to vote if the elections are held under the old constitution, but what is alarming is the difference in the data of the number of matches played as per AIFF records and those of the players concerned. 
Pradeep, a versatile midfielder during Bob Houghton’s reign as national coach and a member of the 2011 Asian Cup squad, was told that the number of matches against his name was not tallying with the figure he had produced. He furnished fresh details and his name was then included in the preliminary list itself. His former India teammate Dias’s name was not even on the initial list.
Once he contested (31 according to AIFF data which was much less than the actual number of games he had played) the figures with proof, Dias won his case. While Dias made the cut in the August 16 list, former India goalkeeper Atanu Bhattacharya missed out. A former footballer said he would like to know who kept the database.
“How can there be such a difference? Even one match played for the country is a matter of pride. Here even after playing more than 50 matches, some had to prove their credentials,” he told The Telegraph. “I know if the elections are held as per the old constitution we will be the first to be dispensed with. But here it’s not about voting rights. We want the records to be set straight,” he said.
The list has been made in the descending order of the number of matches played, not been part of an international match in the last two years and age below 70 years. The cut-off figure for the 24 male footballers is 42 matches.
Bhaichung Bhutia’s name is on top of the list with 107 matches. Former India striker Biswajit Bhattacharya and captain Brahmanand Sankhwalkar have played 42 matches each. In case only the member-associations are eligible to vote, two former India players will carry the flag on behalf of the players.
Harjinder Singh, a striker from the 80s, is the nominee from the Chandigarh Football Association and Eugeneson Lyngdoh, a former AIFF Player of the Year, comes from Meghalaya Football Association but he is not an office-bearer.
Dutta ‘loses’ contest
Subrata Dutta, the Indian Football Association chairman, lost his contest after the returning officer said he was an office-bearer of the AIFF since 2004 and hence deemed ineligible. The draft constitution says anyone who is part of the executive committee for 12 years or more cannot be part of the electoral college. Association president Ajit Banerjee, brother of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, is the IFA nominee.

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