(Last Updated on : 30/12/2010)
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) came into existence in the summer of 1937. After Independence, the AIFF sought affiliation to the world body FIFA. So eleven years after being founded, the AIFF joined FIFA in 1948. The AIFF has played an active role in promoting football, not only in the country but also in Asia. India was one of the founder members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 1954. The AFC was formed when several Asian delegates met during the 2nd Asian Games in Manila in 1954.
On the 23rd June 1937 at the Army Headquarters, Shimla, the All India Football Federation was formed at a meeting of the representatives of football associations of six regions where the game was very popular in those days. The six regions, which attended that historic meeting, were Indian Football Association (IFA) the ruling body of the game in Bengal, Army Sports Control Board, United Provinces, Bihar, North West India Football Association and Delhi.
Before the birth of AIFF, there was no properly constituted national organization. However, the Indian Football Association, the oldest association of its kind in the country, was recognized by football lovers throughout the country, as the ruling body of football in the country. So the AIFF had in the Indian Football Association (Bengal) a forerunner that dates backs to 1893. In its formative years Englishmen dominated the executive committee of the IFA. In fact the only Indian representative was Kalicharan Mitra from the Sobhabazar Club.
Methodical organization and sustained efforts to promote the game in Bengal made the IFA the premier football body in the country in the early decades of the 20th century. For all practical purposes it was the national controlling body largely because the IFA was affiliated to the Football Association of England. Hence all foreign tours were conducted by the IFA. Also all the foreign teams negotiated with the IFA for visits to India and matches in Calcutta and other cities in India.
There were not many football associations in the provinces of the country. The IFA however, felt they should endeavour to form a national body. Accordingly they invited representatives of other provincial football associations then in existence, at a conference in Darbhanga in 1935. The conference was presided over by the (late) Maharaja of Santosh, then president of the IFA and representatives of IFA, Assam, Bihar, UP, Delhi, Mysore and Bombay were present. The conference, however, proves abortive and a sharp difference of opinion cropped up with the result, the IFA delegates (late) SN Banerjee and (late) Pankaj Gupta left the conference in protest along with the Maharaja of Santosh.
The remaining delegates, however, formed a body and styled it as `All India Football Association` with the Raja Bahadur of Darbhanga and Rai Bahadur JP Sinha as honorary secretary. The IFA and the Army Sports Control Board did not join this body and there had been a deadlock. The IFA, however, made another effort to dissolve the deadlock and sent Mr Pankaj Gupta to Delhi to confer with Brigadier VHB Majendine, the then president of the Army Sports Control Board. This meeting took place early March 1937 and Messrs Majendine and Gupta drew up a formula, which ultimately led to the formation of the All India Football Federation. It was agreed at the Delhi talks between Gupta and Messrs Majendine that the Army Sports Control Board towards the end of March at Delhi should call a conference. In this conference, three representatives of the IFA and three representatives of the All India Football Association would be present.
The conference accordingly took place on 27th March 1937 at New Delhi. It was attended on behalf of the IFA by late Mr. SN Banerjee, Bar-at-Law (who subsequently became the president of IFA in 1940), Mr Pankaj Gupta, who at that juncture was the joint honorary secretary of the IFA and Mr. H.N. Nicholls (vice president, IFA who subsequently became the president of IFA in 1939), whereas, others to attend the conference were Mr Badrul Islam (Delhi), HE Brandon (Bombay) and Rai Bahadur JP Sinha (honorary secretary, All India Football Association- AIFA) represented AIFA. Brigadier and VHB Majendine presided at this meeting as chairman. At this conference it was agreed to liquidate the All India Football Association and instead to form an All India Football Federation (AIFF) with one representative from each affiliated association and two each from IFA and ASCB.
Messrs P Gupta and Brandon were entrusted to draft the rules of the new federation to be placed for consideration at the inaugural meeting to be held at Shimla on the 23rd June 1937. At this inaugural meeting the following office-bearers were elected: President: Brigadier VHB Majendine, DSO (ASCB). Hon Secretary: Major A.C. Wilson (ASCB), Hon Treasurer: Pankaj Gupta (IFA).