Will it be Salahuddin again? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 03, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:26 AM, October 03, 2020

Will it be Salahuddin again?

 The Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, the venue for the 2020 Bangladesh Football Federation's (BFF's) electoral congress, was given a festive vibe by the cheerful presence of delegates on the eve of today's polls.

A portion of the hotel was dominated by a blue hue, one of the colours of the local governing body's logo and flag, accompanied by large signboards featuring pictures of some of the incumbent executive committee's success stories as well as pictures of male and female footballers.

The decorations certainly offer a glimpse into how important it is to deck out the venue for the delegates, irrespective of the current status of Bangladesh football.

The secretariat has given delegates highest priority, arranging accommodation, food and other facilities. The delegates are tasked with electing a 21-member committee that will oversee the country's football, which critics believe has reached a nadir due to supply channels drying up as a consequence of lower division and district football leagues being neglected.

The 2016 BFF polls were full of excitement, speculation and allegations as two strong panels participated, but although there are two panels competing in the 2020 elections, there is virtually no excitement or tension in the air.

That stands in contrast to the outside, where fans have been vociferous in their demand to bring a change to the leadership, saying that Kazi Salahuddin had done nothing in the past 12 years apart from focus on the Bangladesh professional football league and the national team, which is now at 187 in the FIFA Rankings.

Salahuddin is leading a panel comprising mostly of members of the current committee while a panel comprising of members from districts and clubs is contesting without a presidential candidate. Both panels disclosed manifestos, including what would be implemented if they were elected.

Salahuddin, who has faced criticism for seeking a fourth term, appeared to be ahead of the two independent presidential candidates -- Shafiqul Islam Manik and Badal Roy – yesterday, with those from opposing panels even speaking favourably about him.

Former footballer Badal Roy, who had been silent after trying to quit the race only to miss the deadline for withdrawal, started communicating with delegates on Thursday and appealed for a silent revolution to bring change to the leadership.

Meanwhile, delegates from districts and divisions, who have 72 of the 139 votes and had been by Salahuddin's side in the past three elections, are apparently now against Bangladesh's first superstar. If the delegates respond to Roy's call, Salahuddin is likely to face a challenge similar in toughness to his first campaign in 2008, when he was up against Amin Ahmed Chowdhury.

"Elections are elections. During my playing career, every match was a big match. There was no big or small match. That is my attitude and I am not taking anything lightly because football is something I love," Salahuddin said.

Badal Roy requested that delegates avert 'more failure', saying: "I want to request the delegates to not vote for Salahuddin unless they want to see more failure in football."

All three previous elections saw panels share posts of vice president and executive members, so there may be changes to those posts this time around too.

BFF Polls 2020 at a glance

Posts: 21, candidates: 47,

Delegates: 139

President: 3 candidates for 1 post

Sr vice-president: 2 candidates for 1 post

Vice-president: 8 candidates for 4 posts

Member: 34 candidates for 15 posts

Panels: 2, Independent candidates: 7

Venue: Pan Pacific Sonargaon

Time: 2 to 6 PM, Oct 3, 2020

Election Commission: 3 members

FIFA/AFC Observer: No physical presence, only through online video monitoring

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