Houghton denies racial abuse charge as "baseless" before panel

Bob Houghton on Monday denied the racial abuse charges levelled against him by the AIFF and termed them as "baseless".

New Delhi: National football coach Bob
Houghton on Monday denied the racial abuse charges levelled
against him by the AIFF and termed them as "baseless" in the
written submissions he made before a three-member panel of the
national federation.

He appeared before a panel of AIFF vice-presidents
Subrata Dutta, Ankur Dutta and treasurer Hardev Jadeja and
made written submissions on charges levelled against him,
including that of allegedly abusing an Indian referee last

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das was also present as
ex-offico member at the hearing held at the federation
headquarter here.

The hearing lasted less than half an hour, with Houghton
submitting his written submission to the charges made at the
show cause notice issued on him on March 26 and the panel
ruling to resume proceedings at a later date as the members
would need time to study his reply.

It is learnt that Houghton, who was accompanied at the
hearing by Delhi-based advocate Anish Dayal, denied the racial
abuse charges, and the panel has asked him to appear again
later, with April 20 being the tentative date.

"The panel will have to study Houghton`s reply and they
have asked him to appear at a later date. The date will be
decided by the panel and it will be informed to Houghton. But
he has denied the racial abuse charges in his submissions," a
top source said.

Dayal told reporters that his client has a strong case and has
submitted that all the charges against him are "baseless".

"We have denied all the charges levelled against the
coach. We have submitted that all of charges are baseless. We
are expecting a fair decision," he said.

"We have not mentioned anything about giving evidence
against the charges. We will wait what the panel says in
further proceedings," said Dayal, who is also the counsel of
Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals.

After the hearing is completed, the panel is expected to
give its recommendations on actions to be taken, if any, to
the executive committee which will take a final decision.

Early last month, the executive committee had decided to
initiate the process to sack Houghton on charges including
remarks against referee Dinesh Nair during India`s friendly
against Yemen in Pune in October last year and "derogatory"
comments against Indian football.

The Englishman was accused by Nair of calling him
`b****** Indian referee`. He was issued a show-cause notice on
March 26 why action should not be taken against him on several
counts, ironically hours after he guided India to the 2012 AFC
Challenge Cup final rounds.

Houghton had denied the charge and the national players
have also sent a signed letter to AIFF president Praful Patel
in support of the coach.

Houghton, who took over the senior Indian team in June
2006, is the first manager of the national football team
to be issued a show cause notice by the AIFF.