Amid the standoff with I-League clubs, the All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das Monday brushed aside allegations that it was acting on the directions of its commercial partner, IMG-Reliance, which promotes the ISL.
The AIFF top official also termed “absolutely false” allegations of conflict of interest against him over the signing of Masters Rights Agreement (MRA) between the federation and IMG-Reliance in 2010.
Asked if the AIFF was working at the behest of its commercial partners, Das categorically issued a denial.
“They are our commercial partners and have a say in a few things in terms of mainly commercial issues. But they have never interfered in any judicial body decision making or in standing committee meetings,” Das said.
“For example (Reliance Sports CEO) Sundar (Raman) was part of the technical committee and, just like any other members in any other body, he just asked his questions but did not try to influence.
“Yes, if the commercial rights are anywhere affected then they will of course be involved because the commercial rights are owned by them and it is fair for them to say that,” Das added.
Recently, the six aggrieved I-League clubs hit out at the AIFF disciplinary committee’s decision to impose a hefty fine of Rs 27.5 lakh fine on them for boycotting the Super Cup citing unfair “step-motherly” treatment by the federation.
The clubs that backed out at the last moment were initially fined Rs 10 lakh by the disciplinary committee.
East Bengal received a fine of Rs 5 lakh. However, the remaining teams were later informed of the compensation they have to pay for the losses suffered by the AIFF and its commercial partners, increasing the fine amount to Rs 27.5 lakh.
Through a series of tweets, Minerva Punjab FC Ranjit Bajaj has insinuated that the AIFF general secretary, being an ex-IMG employee, had a hand in the signing of MRA.
“No date on the contract. Reason? Mr. Kushal Das was an employee of IMG RELIANCE days before he was planted in AIFF to sign this deal on behalf of AIFF. He was appointed GS in October 2010, #illegalMRA also signed in same month Oct 2010!!! CONFLICT OF INTEREST #FootballScam,” Bajaj tweeted.
“How can KUSHAL DAS an ex-employee of IMG RELIANCE join AIFF as GS and within a matter of days sign a deal on behalf of AIFF selling @IndianFootball @ILeagueOfficial just days after being appointed,” Bajaj questioned.
However, Das, who had joined the AIFF from the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2010, rubbished the allegations.
“When I was with IMG there was no joint venture with Reliance. Joint venture with Reliance happened after I left (IMG). Then I went to ICC and during that time they formed the joint venture, which was called IMG-Reliance.
“The management of IMG at that time was completely different because IMG was sold to another guy. The allegation that I worked for IMG-Reliance is absolutely false.
“From the ICC, I came to AIFF because (former BCCI president) Mr. (Sharad) Pawar had told me ‘what are you doing here, Indian football has got some interesting developments, why don’t you come here’,” Das said.
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