Bhutia says Houghton is not racist, blasts referee Nair

Saturday, October 30, 2010

NEW DELHI - Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia Saturday came out in support of national coach Bob Houghton, saying the Englishman did not make any racist remarks against referee Dinesh Nair.

An animated Bhutia said it was Nair “who crossed the line by making false allegations against Bob.”

Nair had alleged that Houghton made racist remarks during India’s friendly against Yemen earlier this month in Pune. The matter has been referred to executive committee of All India Football Federation (AIFF).

In no way Bob can say such things against any individual. I do not believe this. I was there in the match, Bob might have said something and Dinesh interpreted it in a wrong way. I think Dinesh had crossed the line and took it too far, said Bhutia, on the sidelines of the launch of Bhaichung Bhutia Football School.

I am playing under him (Houghton) for the last three years and can assure that Bob is not racist. Ask any of the 30 players in the national camp and they will also say this, he added.

Everybody swears on the ground and that includes referees. These are a part and parcel of the game and it should be left at the ground only. As far as I know Nair, his comments should not be given much importance, Bhutia said.

Nair, the only Indian referee to be selected for the Nov 12-27 Asian Games.

Recalling the Federation Cup final, Bhutia said: Nair made some howlers in the match. He disallowed two clear goals of Mohun Bagan that helped East Bengal win the match. It was a case of shocking supervision.

Asked if Houghton is found guilty and suspended for five matches, Bhutia said: It will be a disaster. He has prepared us for the Asian Cup for the last three years and now if he is suspended, the morale of the team will be shattered. I appeal to the federation to take a decision only after the Asian Cup.

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