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AIFF revives technical panel, brings in Bhutia

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New Delhi - The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has out of the blue brought to life a defunct technical committee by appointing former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia, who is still an active registered player, as its chairman.

Bhutia, who is a registered player with I-League club United Sikkim, is also the first active footballer to be heading the panel, replacing former AIFF vice-president C.R. Viswanathan.

“AIFF president Praful Patel has made Bhutia’s appointment after the executive committee authorised him,” AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta told IANS.

The insiders in the AIFF see it as a marketing gimmick to project Bhutia as the face of Indian football. If that is so then Bhutia will have to have a larger role than merely presiding over a committee that in the past had little to do.

Former footballers Parminder Singh, Prasun Banerjee and Henry Menzes along with officials Lalnghinglova Hmar and Savio Messias are the other members of the committee. Strangely, no one in the AIFF secretariat could either recollect the names of the Viswanathan-headed panel or the recommendations it has made.

It will be interesting to see what will be Bhutia panel’s role and how it will complement with the Dutch Robert Bann, who is AIFF’s technical director.

Ex-India international Pradip Chowdhury, a former member on the committee, lambasted the AIFF for making the technical committee defunct.

“The committee is a big joke. We have met just once in the last three years, in 2011 after the Asian Cup to evaluate Bob Houghton’s performance as India coach. The committee never meets and their views are hardly taken seriously,” Chowdhury told IANS over phone from Kolkata.

The technical committee has generally been used by the AIFF as a tool to get rid of national coaches Syed Nayeemuddin and Houghton.

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