Thiruvananthapuram: Olympian Mercy Kuttan on Monday quit as the president of the Kerala State Sports Council (KSSC) along with other standing committee members of the council. Within hours of her resignation, the state government issued an order appointing former Indian football captain U Sharaf Ali as the new president of the KSSC.
Vice-president O K Vineesh, standing committee members I M Vijayan, George Thomas, V Sunil Kumar, S Rajeev, M R Ranjith, and K Rafeeq submitted their resignation as per the ruling CPIM's direction. The vice-president and standing committee members of the council are elected directly by voting from a set of candidates.
Although the CPIM leadership is yet to decide on the new office-bearers, it is learnt that many members of the outgoing council might get another term.
The existing council had one more year left to complete its full tenure of five years. The decision to reconstitute the council was taken at the CPIM state secretariat meeting held on Friday. S Rajeev had submitted his resignation on Saturday itself. In his resignation letter, he expressed displeasure over the way the council had been functioning. The council had been mired in disputes and controversies over the last couple of years, prompting the CPIM to disband it. Mercy Kuttan's alleged disagreements with sports minister V Abdurahiman and the discord among council members had also spilled out in the open.
As the CPIM did not want to create an impression that Mercy Kuttan was sacked, a consensus was reached through talks to reconstitute the governing body. Despite the dismissal of the state-level council, the elected governing councils in the fourteen districts will continue.
Focus on bringing sports bodies together
Responding to his appointment as the new president of the KSSC, Sharaf Ali said,: "I'm happy and grateful to the state government for giving me this opportunity. I will try my best to improve the sporting ecosystem in Kerala in accordance with the government policies. First and foremost, I will try to understand thoroughly how the KSSC functions before making efforts to further strengthen it. There are several sports bodies in the state that are at loggerheads with each other. I will make sincere efforts to pacify them and bring them together for common good."
The 58-year-old Sharaf Ali was part of the Kerala Police team which won the Federation Cup in 1990 and 1991. He was also a member of the Kerala team which won the national football championship for the Santosh Trophy in 1992 and 1993. After serving the Kerala Police for a long 36 years, he retired as the commandant of the rapid response and rescue force in Malappuram in 2020.