NEW DELHI: Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who served as president of the All India Football Federation for almost 20 years before a severe heart attack and stroke he suffered in 2008 put him in a coma, passed way Tuesday at around noon.
Dasmunsi, who was also the first Indian to serve as a match commissioner in a FIFA World Cup game, died at the capital's Indraprastha Apollo Hospital at 12.10pm.
The Congress leader and former information and broadcasting minister is survived by his wife Deepa Dasmunsi and son Priyadeep Dasmunsi. He was 72.
“He had been critically ill for the past one month and unfortunately succumbed to his illness at 12.10 pm on 20.11.17,” said Apollo through a statement.
Dasmunsi was first elected AIFF president in December 1988 when he succeeded Khalifa Ziauddin to the post.
As a mark of respect, the AIFF Flag flies at half-mast at the AIFF Headquarters - Football House in Dwarka, New Delhi - and a minute’s silence will be observed prior to the kick-off of all AIFF matches.
Dasmunsi, fondly referred to as Priyo-da played a stellar role in laying the foundation for the growth of football in the country. It was under his leadership that Vision India Projects were launched along with the National Football League, and later the I-League along with the AIFF Elite Academy in Goa.
It was also under his tenure that India won the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 in Delhi to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup Doha 2011 for the first time since 1984; and also the 2007 Nehru Cup.
Serving AIFF president Praful Patel termed Dasmunsi's demise "a massive loss for Indian Football.”
In his message, Patel said: “It is very sad to hear that Mr Dasmunshi is no more. His contribution to Indian football can never be forgotten. The thoughts and prayers of the Indian football community are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
“He was a visionary and had laid the path for the development of Indian football over the years. May his soul rest in peace,” he added.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das in his message said: “He has been an inspiration to all. He was a workaholic and we will always remember him for his passion for football. I share the grief.”
“On behalf of AIFF we extend our heartfelt condolences to all members of the bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace.”
Dasmunsi also served as a member of the AFC executive committee, the AFC technical committee, and was also the chairman of AFC legal committee. He was a member of the FIFA Court of Arbitration and acted as the vice-president of the Indian Olympic Association.
Besides, he was also actively involved as a FIFA technical study group member in 1995 Women’s Women Cup (Sweden) and a match commissioner in 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup (USA).
The former AIFF president was the first Indian to attain the privilege of being the special duty officer at the 1998 France World Cup and the 2002 Korea Japan World Cup. He was also the chef`de mission of the India Olympics contingent in 2004 in Athens and match commissioner for two World Cup matches in 2006 Germany World Cup.
In addition, Das Munsi was also the venue in charge for FIFA World Cups for three consecutive editions France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006.
Dasmunsi was a Member of Parliament from 1999 to 2009. He served as the Union minister of parliamentary affairs and the minister of information and broadcasting from 2004 to 2008, during the first term of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.
He represented the Raiganj constituency in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha. After his hospitalisation, the Congress fielded his wife, Deepa Dasmunshi, from the constituency in 2009. In 2014, the Trinamool Congress roped in his brother Satyaranjan Dasmunsi to face-off against Deepa.
The Congress expressed its condolences at the passing of Dasmunsi, stating that he will be greatly remembered.