CHENNAI: Consider this scenario. The All India Football Federation received their directive to register as an NGO three days ago (their secretary Kushal Das has referred the matter to the Indian Olympic Association and is still waiting for some clarity on the issue).
They are hosting the U-17 World Cup next year which will inevitably lead to financial transcations between them and FIFA. How smooth will the world cup be if the AIFF has to run to the government every time they have to receive money from FIFA?
What happens when a national sports federation registers as an NGO? For all we know, nothing major could happen, but everybody's best case scenario has one major roadblock - the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act 2010.
According to three notifications issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions in June (nos: 1541, 1542 and 1543), any NGO which has received a grant of more than Rs 1 crore will come under the Lokpal and Lokayukt Act 2013, and their board members treated as 'public servants'. Also coming under the ambit of the notifications are any NGOs that have received at least Rs 10 lakh from a foreign source ? a description applicable to virtually every NSF who receive money from their affiliated bodies as grants or solidarity payments. The payments that NSFs receive from their parent bodies becomes a major grey area if they register as NGOs.
"They will have to apply for a FCRA account as per the FCRA Act 2010," a prominent sports lawyer who wished to remain anonymous told Express. "After they do so, every time their parent body offers them a solidarity payment or a grant, they will have to apply for government permission just to receive it, something that will inevitably lead to a lot of lag.
Even if the government were to introduce measures to make this easier, the other NGOs can cry foul as to why things are a lot tougher for them." But eminent sports lawyer Rahul Mehra said that this move will result in the NSFs becoming more accountable. "As of now, I don't think there will be problem, but I will have to study it," he said. "They should come under the Lokpal Act.
If they are not doing anything hanky-panky, then why should they worry? For them (sports bodies), everything is a major issue. The more you try to make them transparent and accountable, it becomes an issue."
However, some federation officials felt it was not the accountability part. The question for them is ?Is the government transgressing into their autonomy?? Since the order was dispatched on October 25 or 26, neither the federation nor the SAI is sure of its long term implications. They are in the dark as to the rules and guidelines to be followed if NSFs are treated as NGOs. But the lawyers believe if you are treated as an NGO, you have to follow their guidelines.
A source in the government said this is an initiative of the government to digitise and remove all paper work is one of the reasons why this has been undertaken. As of now the federations who have not signed are waiting for the executive meeting on November 4.