Reigning I-league champions right Minerva Punjab FC were given a three-year suspension by the UT Sports Department for fielding overage players in an Under-17 competition, according to a report in The Tribune.
The Chandigarh-based football club was charged with the offense reported to have taken place during the final of the 16th All-India Administrator’s U-17 Challenge Cup against Chandigarh Football Club. The Sports Department plans to hand the winners’ trophy and the cash award of Rs 3 lakh to the CFA despite Minerva winning the match, played on September 30, 2-0, continued the report.
The CFA management had lodged a formal complaint against the winners, accusing them of fielding three overage players in the title clash.
However, the Ranjit Bajaj-owned club denied the charge, saying that they will move court against the order. “All these allegations are baseless. It was the CFA that fielded an overage player in the final,” Club director Henna Bajaj was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
She added that no action was taken against the CFA as this was a personal vendetta against Minerva for winning the trophy for three years.
“The inquiry committee comprised the CFA coaches and technical staff mostly. Once we made the objection, the department claimed to have changed the members, but it was done behind closed doors,” she added.
Incidentally, this is not the first time age fraud has clouded this tournament. Minerva Punjab had reached the semifinals of the 16th Administrator’s Cup after accusing Tata Football Academy of overage players. The TFA had won the quarter-final, but were suspended.