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The Hat-trick | AIFF Extends Term of Executive Committee, Praful Patel To Not Contest Future Elections; Ulsan Horang-i Crowned Asian Club Champions; Morgan Returns Home

The Hat-trick (Top Football News of the Day): At its AGM, the federation passed a resolution to extend the term of the executive committee till the Supreme Court verdict | Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i defeated Iran’s Persepolis 2-1 in the final in Doha to win AFC Champions League | Alex Morgan ends loan spell at Tottenham Hotspur to return home.
AIFF elections postponed

A FIFA spokesperson had earlier said that it expects the AIFF to fulfil its obligations under Article 14 of the statutes of the world body.

The depth of scepticism, rebellion and factionalism surrounding the postponed AIFF elections is best indicated by the national federation’s official statement regarding the Annual General Meeting (AGM) meeting on Monday, where the compilers chose to mark the word solidarity with quotation marks. 

After reports (on these very pages) of various state federations writing to the AIFF demanding elections surfaced, there was a prevalent feeling that perhaps this year’s AGM would be frictious, at best. On the surface, it seems not. 

Also Read | David Williams Strikes as ATK Mohun Bagan beat Bengaluru FC in ISL

Conducted via video conference, the idea of elections being held at the meeting were dismissed hours before it was scheduled. A resolution passed during the virtual AGM though decided to extend the term of the executive committee till the Supreme Court gave its verdict on the framing of a new constitution and election process.

The AIFF president also said he will not contest elections as and when they are held. Patel would not be eligible to do so under the National Sports code in any case, a fact he acknowledged at the meeting.

A FIFA spokesperson had earlier said that it expects the AIFF to fulfil its obligations under Article 14 of the statutes of the world body.

“FIFA is in contact with the AIFF in relation to the upcoming electoral process. While respecting the principle of autonomy, FIFA expects all its member associations to fulfil their obligations in line with article 14 of the FIFA Statutes,” the Fifa spokesperson was quoted by PTI.

Article 14 of FIFA Statutes mainly relates to members associations’ obligations to follow Standard Statutes of the world body, to manage their affairs independently and not get influenced by any third parties.

Ulsan Hyundai Champions of Asia

Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i reestablished East Asian dominance in Asian club football, winning the Asian Champions League (ACL) with a 2-1 victory over Iran side Persepolis in Doha on December 19. The Korean side’s triumph drew curtains on the heavily disrupted tournament owing to Covid-19. The finale was a display of the determination of the organisers, who faced and overcame difficult odds, to complete the season.

K-League sides have won the competition 12 times in its history. More importantly though this is the eighth time in the last nine years that a side from the eastern half of the confederation lifted the trophy. Al Hilal’s victory last year was the only time the dominance of Korean, Japanese and Chinese clubs was interrupted. 

Al Hilal -- the most successful club in Asia -- was very much there in the competition this year as well, but the Saudi Arabian side made an early exit, plagued by the pandemic. 

Once the tournament resumed after a six-month pandemic break, Doha set itself up as a biosecure venue to host the matches involving teams from the west of the continent. But a spike in infections within Al Hilal squad weakened the Saudi team, effectively hastening its exit. 

It was a crisis for sure -- the exit of the big boys in the mix due to Covid-19 infection in the biosecure bubble. But, after fine-tuning the already strict safety protocols, the matches were staged again.

Alex Morgan's Spurs Spell Ends

US international and two time World Cup winner Alex Morgan has ended her loan spell at Tottenham Hotspur and will return home, the Women’s Super League (WSL) club said on Monday.

Morgan joined the north London club from Orlando Pride in a bid to regain match fitness following the birth of her child in May after the Covid-19 pandemic truncated the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season this year.

The 31-year-old’s signing was seen as a coup for Spurs but the striker, who has scored 107 international goals, only made five appearances and scored twice in the WSL where the club sit eighth out of 12 teams in the standings.

“I will be forever grateful to the club, my teammates and Spurs supporters for taking such good care of me and my family,” Morgan said. “From the moment I arrived in London, I realised I was part of a first-class organisation, one that helped provide me the opportunity to immerse myself back into the game I love.”

Spurs have struggled in the WSL this season, however, and the club sacked co-head coaches Karen Hills and Juan Amoros last month when they were second-bottom, with Rehanne Skinner taking over.

The club then earned their first wins of the season, with Morgan scoring both her goals under the former England assistant manager. Morgan’s last appearance came in a 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Dec. 13 when she scored the opener from the penalty spot.

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