Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia, who recently lost the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president’s election, has questioned the appointment of Shaji Prabhakaran as its secretary general, saying that “choosing a voter to a salaried post will set a wrong precedent”.
Mr. Prabhakaran, who was in the electoral college as a representative of Football Delhi, was made the AIFF Secretary General a day after former India goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey beat Mr. Bhutia 33-1 in the polls for president’s post on September 2.
Mr. Bhutia has requested the AIFF to include the issue of appointment of Mr. Prabhakaran raised by him in the agenda of Executive Committee meeting to be held in Kolkata on Monday.
Mr. Prabhakaran resigned as Football Delhi president on September 6, a day before he took charge as AIFF secretary general.
Wrong precedent, says Bhutia
Mr. Bhutia alleged that appointing a voter to a salaried post of the AIFF later on has an element of “bargaining”.
“He (Prabhakaran) was a voter and president of an association (Football Delhi), appointing him for a salaried post will set a wrong precedent,” Mr. Bhutia told PTI on Saturday.
“I would not have any issue had he been appointed to an honorary post. Next time onwards somebody will bargain to vote to get a salaried post after election.”
Mr. Bhutia, Indian football’s poster boy for more than a decade till he retired in 2011, said “till now no president of a state association and a voter has not been appointed to a salaried post”.
Shaji Prabhakaran says post taken in good faith
Mr. Prabhakaran, on his part, said he had taken up the post with good intentions to serve Indian football. He rejected any kind of bargaining or quid-pro-quo in the run-up to the AIFF elections.
“I accepted the post in good faith, with intention to serve Indian football. There was no give and take, nothing like that (in the run-up to elections),” Mr. Prabhakaran said.
“Mr. Bhutia is an executive committee member and he is free to raise matters. When he raises this issue during the meeting (on Monday), I am sure the executive committee will take a call (to discuss it or not).”
Normally, the AIFF Secretary General is an ex-officio member of the executive committee without voting right.
Mr. Bhutia, who is one of the six former players co-opted in the AIFF executive committee with voting rights, did not attend the first meeting of the body on September 3 but he said he will turn up in Kolkata on Monday.
“This (membership of executive committee) is given through a decision of the Supreme Court and not given by the federation or the sports ministry. So, I want to honour the SC decision to recognise my contribution to Indian football.
“I have consulted my lawyers also and they said it would be a bad precedent if I don’t take up this post. Moreover, I am always there to help and support in the development of Indian football and I will keep on doing that,” Mr. Bhutia concluded.