In a significant development, football's governing body FIFA has suspended Sri Lanka's national federation, a month after issuing it with a 'red notice' over governance issues. The warning from the apex body came after the Ministry of Sports introduced a raft of regulations that reportedly comprised the autonomy and independence of national sports bodies, including the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL).
Notably, FFSL held an election earlier this month, which reportedly fell short of standards agreed upon with FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), in which an ally of the sports minister became chair. In a letter on Sunday, FIFA notified that it has suspended FFSL 'until further notice.'
The suspension prevents Sri Lanka - which is in the midst of a major economic crisis, blamed partly on corruption - from taking part in international competitions. Notably, Sri Lanka's men's team is currently ranked 207th in the world and the women's team is 155th.
“We hereby inform you that, as a result of the decision taken by the Bureau of the FIFA Council on 21 January 2023, the FFSL has been suspended until further notice in accordance with article 16 of the FIFA Statutes. This also means that neither the FFSL nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development program, courses or training from FIFA and/or the AFC. Moreover, we would remind you and your affiliates not to enter into any sporting contact with the FFSL and/or its teams while the FFSL is suspended,” FIFA said in a letter to FFSL on Sunday.
Last year FIFA had suspended the AIFF on August 15 for "undue influence from third parties" and had said the U-17 Women's World Cup "cannot currently be held in India as planned.
However, the World football governing body FIFA soon lifted the ban imposed on the AIFF after the Supreme Court terminated the mandate of the Committee of Administrators (CoA), clearing the decks for India to host the Women's U-17 World Cup in October.
The suspension, the first time in AIFF's 85-year history, lasted just 11 days after the Supreme Court on Monday dissolved the three-member CoA, constituted by it in May, while modifying its earlier orders to ensure that India hosts the FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup from October 11-30.