Bhutia issue to be decided by AIFF

A decision on the suspension of Bhutia by Mohun Bagan will be taken by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the Indian Footbal Association said.

updated: July 09, 2009 15:09 IST
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A decision on the suspension of India captain Bhaichung Bhutia by Mohun Bagan will be taken by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the Indian Football Association (IFA) said on Thursday.

The IFA took the decision at its governing body meeting here as Bhutia had shot off a letter to the AIFF requesting its intervention in the matter a few days ago.

The AIFF then forwarded the matter to their Player's Status Committee and informed the IFA about the development last evening.

Bhutia had earlier wanted the IFA to sort out the issue following which the state association had called the governing body meeting on Thursday.

But in the IFA meeting, attended by 37 members and office bearers, majority of the members - about 23 of them - wanted the matter to be solved by the AIFF.

"The governing body on Thursday gave the approval to forward the matter to AIFF," IFA secretary Utpal Ganguly told reporters after the meeting.

He, however, added, "On one hand, Bhutia is saying he has faith on IFA and on the other hand he wants AIFF to sort out the matter. Bhutia had told the AIFF he wanted the national body to look into the matter."

"The appeal has to come to the governing body. It's not a matter of Players' Status Committee. The section under which Bhutia has represented had to come to the governing body as per the Constitution," Ganguly said.

The IFA also expressed its disappointment about the way AIFF had handled the episode without consulting the state association.

"We will write to them about that in future. They should have consulted us before taking any such decision," he said. Mohun Bagan legal counsel Geeta Nath Ganguly termed the entire episode as a "farce".

"Why did IFA convene the governing body meeting (if the matter was forwarded to AIFF)? It's a total farce," he quipped.

The Bhutia-Mohun Bagan rift started when the star striker skipped an exhibition match of the club in Jalpaiguri.

In a strongly-worded letter on May 14, club secretary Anjan Mitra asked Bhutia to clarify his conduct within 48 hours besides advising him not to join the team practice.

Bhutia, however, chose not to reply to the showcause and on May 18 announced his decision to part ways with the club.

Three days after declaring that he had "no heart to play for Bagan", Bhutia sent a letter seeking immediate release from the club.

Mohun Bagan, in their executive committee meeting on June 8, took a decision to suspend the star Indian footballer for six months without pay.

Bhutia's legal counsel Usha Nath Banerjee challenged the decision at the IFA, even as the AIFF permitted the India captain to attend the national camps in Dubai and Barcelona.

IFA then had convened its governing body meeting on Thursday to decide on the issue.