The Delhi High Court on Tuesday allowed India defender Anwar Ali to resume playing football, essentially overruling the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Medical Committee’s recommendation to prevent him playing at a competitive level. The order was passed after the 20-year-old filed a petition challenging the medical committee’s verdict after he was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) last year.
The committee’s decision had come as a major blow for Ali, who is one of the brightest young prospects in the country and his poor socio-economic background makes his case even more sensitive, with him being the sole bread earner in his family. He had earlier made an emotional plea to the AIFF as well as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), whose medical commission had also corroborated the stand taken by the national governing body regarding this case. However, the latest verdict comes as a relief for Ali with him free to continue playing till the time that a final decision is taken.
The defender, who was an integral part of India’s U-17 World Cup squad in 2017 found backing in the form of Dr Sanjay Sharma, who is the Chairman of the Cardiology Consensus Panel for the English Football Association and an expert in the field. He had studied Ali’s case in detail and his report suggested that it may be reasonable for someone with a ‘morphologically mild disease’, who is asymptomatic and has a low risk profile to continue playing, as long as he and his family accept the repercussions and risks associated with it.
In his petition, the highly-rated defender had contended that by asking his club Mohammedan Sporting to not allow him to train, the AIFF was directly violating his right to a livelihood of his choice, especially after he had secured a positive go-ahead from experts at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh. The latest court ruling also allows him to challenge the final decision made by the AIFF Medical Committee in a few weeks’ time if he feels that the decision goes against him.