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UPFA fire full squad

New Delhi: The controversy that broke out in Varanasi after a senior official of the All India Football (AIFF) was arrested last week, following allegations of sexual harassment by a woman footballer during the state selection camp, has taken an ugly turn.

The official, Mohammed Shamsuddin, who is also the secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Football Association (UPFA), has been released on bail.

But the UPFA has thrown out all the 20 girls in the selection camp from the state team. They had all supported the Meerut-based girl who filed a complaint against the official.

According to sources, the UPFA has sent a new set of players for the National women’s championship that started in Assam on Sunday. While the girls alleged they were being victimised for filing a police complaint against Shamsuddin, the UPFA maintained that they were not selected because of their “acts of indiscipline.”

Strangely, the AIFF has remained a mute spectator. The UPFA secretary is an executive member of the AIFF and also the vice chairman of its finance committee.

“We have been ‘punished’ for supporting one of our teammates, who was sexually harassed by the state secretary,” one of the camp members told The Telegraph on conditions of anonymity.

“We attended the camp in Varanasi from April 11 to 25 But we were dropped in the end for raising our voice against an official’s wrongdoings.”

Sources said the girls ran from pillar to post to get justice, but to no avail. They met the district sports officer and additional district magistrate and even sent a letter to the AIFF, signed by 20 footballers. UPFA insiders said the hastily picked squad have players from other disciplines too, as enough number of footballers were not available.

Bhairab Dutt, the team coach, said: “The camp members in Varanasi were busy with protest marches against the secretary. They did not practice. So, we had to collect players from other places to raise the team.”

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said any action against Shamsuddin would have to be decided by the executive committee. “The matter is still under police investigation,” he said.