New Delhi: A bitter Indian football coach Bob Houghton on Saturday hit back at AIFF for its decision to initiate steps to sack him, saying that the charges leveled against him by the national federation were “nonsensical”.
The AIFF has decided to take legal advice to see if Houghton’s contract, which runs till 2013, can be terminated without giving compensation to him on the ground that the Englishman had used “derogatory” remarks against the federation.
Reports have said that the AIFF could take into account Houghton’s alleged “racial” remarks against Indian referee Dinesh Nair during the international friendly against Yemen in Pune last year to charge him of bringing disrepute to the AIFF.
Houghton on Saturday issued a statement through his manager Simon, saying that the Englishman has not uttered any single word which could be construed as racial.
“Further to reports in the media that I made a racist remark to a fourth official last year, I wish to categorically deny that allegation,” Houghton said in the statement.
“I have no doubt that all the players and staff that I have worked with in India would confirm that I do not have a racist bone in my body and have treated all of them with the utmost respect.”
“The only exception would be Pradeep Choudery (former team manager), who walked out of his position as National Team manager just prior to the Asian Cup after an argument with me.
I refer those who would wish to see a reflection of this man’s standing among the Indian Team members to the FPAI website directly after his walk out,” he said.
He also accused Chowdhury, who was present during the incident in Pune, for changing his version of the event. Nair had made a complaint to the AIFF that Houghton had made racial remarks against him.
“Furthermore, remarks made by former team manager Pradeep Choudery are the exact opposite of his comments made at a dinner directly after the match, where in front of my staff he called the official in question ‘a bad man’ and insisted I had said no such thing.
“My staff are prepared to confirm Choudery’s comments when and if required,” he said.
Houghton also said that his comments in the media about the lack of infrastructure in India was not a new thing and he had not done anything wrong.
“Regarding the other allegation regarding my criticism of the AIFF during the Asian Cup, my comments were limited only to facilities for football in India. They reflect exactly the comments made by Asian Football Confederation President Mohammed Bin Hamman on a visit to India during my time as head coach, when he described India as ‘100 years behind’ other Asian countries.
“I would also like to point out that I have worked in international football at the highest level for 30 years before my arrival in India in 2006, having worked in Africa, China, the United States, Uzbekistan, the Middle East and in many European countries and staffed coaching courses for the AFC throughout Asia without any such nonsensical allegations being made,” Houghton said.
Houghton, however, did not say anything about quitting the job nor about AIFF’s decision to take legal advice on the termination of his contract.
“Finally I look forward to taking a young and experimental India Team to the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers next month and then returning to our senior National Team
players for the World Cup Qualifiers in June.”