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Bhaichung Bhutia demands AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey's resignation, blames him for 'mess'

The AIFF's Executive Committee on Tuesday removed Shaji Prabhakaran from the post of secretary general

PTI New Delhi Published 30.01.24, 08:11 PM
Bhaichung Bhutia

Bhaichung Bhutia File photo

Former national captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Tuesday demanded the resignation of All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey, holding him responsible for the "current mess" in the administration of the game in the country even as Shaji Prabhakaran was dismissed as secretary general for the second time.

The AIFF's Executive Committee on Tuesday removed Prabhakaran from the post of secretary general, more than two months after the emergency committee did the same on November 7 for "breach of trust".

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A single bench of the Delhi High Court had on December 8 ordered an interim stay on his sacking.

In its latest order of January 19, the High Court pointed out that Prabhakaran was dismissed by the emergency committee of the AIFF whereas the federation's constitution provides that only the executive committee has the power to do that.

The HC, however, had said that the stay order of December 8 "does not act as a bar on the AIFF to hold the meetings of the executive committee for the purpose of terminating the tenure of the petitioner (Prabhakaran)".

"Yes, Shaji Prabhakaran was sacked as secretary general by the executive committee in the meeting on Tuesday," a source told PTI.

Bhutia attended Tuesday's executive committee meeting of the AIFF called here to discuss the dismissal of Prabhakaran, who was not initially invited for the meeting but later allowed to join it virtually.

"I told the executive committee members that Kalyan Chaubey and treasurer Kipa Ajay should also resign. Shaji Prabhakaran should not be made the only scapegoat. All three of them are equally responsible for taking decisions without the approval of executive committee," Bhutia told PTI.

"All three of them were taking the decisions and if Shaji has to be removed, the president and treasurer should also be removed," said the legendary striker.

"Indian football is in a mess, there is politics in the sport, cutting out each other after little over one year of taking charge, it is not good. The national team has been left in the lurch during the Hangzhou Asian Games as well as in the Asian Cup where there was inadequate training time for the team." Another source confirmed Bhutia's version and added that Prabhakaran asked the executive committee members to explain what constituted the "breach of trust".

"He (Prabhakaran) asked the executive committee to explain what constituted breach of trust on the basis of which he was dismissed. He said he had not committed any financial irregularities or fraud. He also said that there was no emergency committee constituted for the AIFF and how can there be a reference to the emergency committee for my dismissal," the source said.

"Prabhakaran also said that he would have, in any case, resigned because his relationship with the president was nearing breaking point." AIFF vice president NA Haris then intervened and said that the matter is sub-judice.

Bhutia, who lost in the AIFF presidential poll in 2022, also said that he did not know what constituted the "breach of trust" which led to Prabhakaran's dismissal.

"I am an executive committee member but I don't know what was the breach of trust Shaji had committed. I am not told nor briefed about it." Bhutia said that he proposed live streaming of the AIFF annual general or executive committee meetings for the sake of transparency.

"Nowadays, even the Supreme Court and High Court case hearings are streamed live, so what is the problem in doing the same for AIFF AGM or executive committee meetings. So, I proposed live streaming of AIFF meetings." Talking about the Indian team's group stage exit in the AFC Asian Cup in Doha, Bhutia said, "Asian Games and Asian Cup are the two most important tournaments for India and both were disasters, not due to players or coach but because of the AIFF top brass.

"In the Asian Games, the team played its first match just a few hours after landing in Hangzhou. In the Asian Cup, the team was not given adequate training time."

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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