Minerva Punjab reject claims of fielding overage players in local U-17 tournament
Minerva Punjab released a counter statement against Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) after reports emerged that the club has been banned from participating in the UT Administrator’s Cup tournament for three years for fielding overage players.
The club said it is an attempt to malign Minerva’s success and give their own team the trophy and said they would approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding the matter.
Minerva Punjab have been winning the U-17 tournament for the last three years, including the latest edition on September 30, when they beat CFA 2-0. After the match, CFA alleged that Minerva fielded two overage players – two from Manipur and one from Punjab – in the tournament.
The tournament organisers set up an up an enquiry committee and after an initial investigation, the UT Sports Department slapped a three-year ban on Minerva. They handed the suspension on Wednesday, two months after the tournament. They are also thinking of stripping Minerva off the title.
Minerva alleged they haven’t received any official communication of the decision taken by the tournament committee. According to them, CFA filed a complaint against Minerva of fielding overage players but couldn’t produce any proof or document pertaining to their allegation.
“At the same time, Minerva filed a counter-complaint against CFA top scorer Shabby Khan, submitting his true and original birth certificate. Being one of the key players in their tournament and scoring most of the goals that got CFA into the final of the tournament, the complaint should’ve been taken seriously by the tournament committee but was completely overlooked and no response was received on the same,” Minerva’s statement read.
Minerva also accused the enquiry committee of bias as most of the members were CFA coaches and technical staff. The decisions were taken behind closed doors and didn’t come to public. There was no hearing before the decision of ban was announced.
“The same committee provided a period of more than two months to its own team CFA to produce what they claim to be ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’ against Minerva Punjab FC player. No details of the proof have been shared with us. In fact, Minerva are not even aware which player/players have been ruled overage and how,” Minerva’s statement further read.
The club has also said that they will not participate in any tournament organised by UT department in the future.
This year, many clubs have accused one another of fielding overage players. Minerva themselves had complained against Tata Football Academy during the 16th edition of the tournament and squeezed their way into the semifinals.
Also, Ideal Youth Association of Manipur were challenged by Haryana Football Association over the same offence. As many as 17 players of different teams came out overage.