Football Analyst and Historian Novy Kapadia Lashes Out on the BAJAJ-GATE Controversy

Rohit Ganguly  |  Controversy  |  11 Months Ago

Just when Indian football was soaring sky high in an attempt to clean its dark side by involving CBI in a previously filed complaint by Ranjit Bajaj against certain East Bengal incumbents, another ugly side of the game has reared its distorted head to instigate a storm of unprecedented measure.


The same Ranjit Bajaj, who was pulling the strings behind the curtains of incriminating the match-fixers, has now found himself ensnared in a web stitched by the wrath of AIFF. He was slapped a fine of 10 lakh rupees and was handed a one-year ban from all kinds of football activities after the Federation found him guilty of a racial slur and abuse against the referee in an afoot encounter. The incident transpired during a match between Minerva’s U-18 outfit and Aizawl FC which fizzled out into a stalemate.


According to the disciplinary committee’s findings, Bajaj hurled those racial comments against the match referee, Pynskhehame Mawthoh, who hails from the North East descent. The disciplinary committee was pretty vocal about the fact that this was the fourth umbrage committed by Bajaj in a span of one year.

Previously Bajaj was fined an astronomical sum of 7 lakhs after he was incriminated of a similar offence and abreast that punition, he was also handed a stadium ban for 8 matches.


Stadium bans are extremely rare and are handed only to the ones who are infringing the laws by making flagrant racial comments against players or coaches or match officials and also fomenting hatred on the field. FIFA has been dealing with this in the most stringent ways possible and has cascaded the similar set of regulations to all the affiliated bodies of football under them. AIFF was in no mood to lax its laws in this incident, instigated by the Minerva owner.


In the 11-page report, the disciplinary committee cited that it held Bajaj guilty of serious gross acts of infringements and imposes with a sanction of suspension of 12 months.


Match commissioner, Biswajit Mitra gave his details about the entire span of events which unfolded on the ground and led to the current scenario of Bajaj being banned. His statement cited, “Ranjit acted like a criminal indulging in series of hooliganism, abusing the Match Officials in filthy language, threatening them openly, making racist remarks against the Match Officials. Certainly, none of these can be equated with an educated Guardian of a Sports Club”.

This, however, has not been a one-sided affair. Minerva Punjab has retorted strongly to these allegations and the conviction of their patron. They have divulged a few facts which cannot be shrugged away completely keeping in mind the circumstances of this decision by AIFF.


Bajaj was the first one to comment denying his conviction stating that, “First of all, I was sitting in the stand, I was not even in the dugout with the team. Honestly speaking I have not used any racial remarks towards the referee. My senior team coach Khogen Singh is from Manipur, my U-17 football players, who had represented India are from Manipur and there are so many kids in my academy who are from North East and they are accusing me that I have made a racial slur against the match referee. I don't know what to say I am just sad”


Bajaj also added, “Mobile phones, jackets, and shoes which are worth of Rs 1,09,700 belonging to players and officials of the SAG Football Academy were stolen from the dressing room. I told  the match official that he needs to up the level of security during the matches.”


Club director, Henna Bajaj refuted all the charges, claiming that this was a ploy by AIFF to defame Ranjit. She also said that the correct procedure for punishing an individual was not followed by AIFF.


Henna very clearly stated, “We are totally in shock. There was no hearing, just a show-cause notice was sent. He has been framed and this is an effort to malign us”


She added, “All this racist comment is nonsense. No procedure was followed. We were given three hours to reply. We were given this notice around 12 in the afternoon yesterday. We were told to reply by 7 p.m. How does disciplinary committee meet between 7-11 p.m. on a Sunday evening and decide? This is all too wrong and just an effort to stop us from winning our fourth title.”


Given the fact that the veracity of this incrimination is still a causes célèbre, Jersey decided to consult the likes of one of the most renowned football analysts and one of the best commentators of all time, Novy Kapadia, who exclusively shared his detailed insight on the controversy.


Jersey asked him, “The day before, Ranjit Bajaj was fined a sum of ten lakhs. However, there has been a backlash from Mr. Bajaj and Heena Bajaj citing that this is basically a ploy of AIFF to defame him. Who, according to you, is right? Is it AIFF or Ranjit Bajaj?”

Him: “Obviously in all these quarrels there is no easy solution. There is nothing and everything in all of it. Eventually in the world there is no one way of looking at it. Since it was an age group match, I had no idea of what happened. I have heard that he did use abusive language. There is also an unwritten convention in Indian football, as I have been associated with the sport for more than half a century, because India is a country with strong regional identity, you will never put the referee from the same region when the team from the region is playing. In the Durand football tournament, which is India’s oldest in the world; a Bengali referee has never supervised a Mohun Bagan versus JCT Mills match. A JCT versus BSF match would have a Bengali referee or in an East Bengal versus Mohun Bagan. These are unwritten laws. When Mohamedan Sporting played, there were some outstanding referees like the late Ikramul Haque, later on Rizwan-ul Haque and others. They never supervised those matches. This is a certain common sense which needs to be applied. I do think that the punishment is a bit excessive. The comments were said in anger and he went out of control. The punishment is a bit excessive as it has needlessly caused one more controversy in Indian football.”


Jersey: “Recently, Ranjit Bajaj was also involved in alleging East Bengal officials about bribing Minerva Punjab to leave the I-League. AIFF has brought in CBI in the investigation. This is the first time CBI is actually probing a case in Indian football. Do you think that AIFF should have let Javed Siraj to investigate the case or bringing in CBI is absolutely a correct decision?”

NK: “It is obvious that he won’t get all the reasons. These things happen all the time. There is nothing new. Earlier also, there were acrimonious matches when referees and players will be approached. This is nothing new. Frankly, if you ask me, a mountain has been made out of a mole. There are minor faults. He is an emotional man. I know him very well. This could have been sorted out sitting over the table in a closed room over candid discussions. Of course there is certain decorum in place which needs to be maintained. Whether they are approached or not, yes, it could have happened. This is a very common thing. It happens abroad as well, where Chelsea approaches Arsenal players. There is nothing wise in this. Anyway they have won the league. Matters need to be closed. It is a very common thing which happens all over the world, when the players go. How do you think the transfers all over the world take place? The World Cup is like a common market. It is like a trade fair. Agents from every club are there. No one goes around complaining. He is just making a mountain out of a mole. The World Cup is full of that. All the teams except four or five, who can win the World Cup, rest of them play to display their best, so that they can go to a rich club. Agents are there all the time. This is nothing new at all. I do not see any reasons to see CBI or anything being involved. This could have been given to the FIFA officer. Anyway, this did not make any difference. Ultimately, Minerva won the league. If they would have not won the league, then this could have been a serious case. They won the league and East Bengal came fourth. Frankly speaking, it was a no-brainer. There was no need for this at all. It should have been buried like fines in India are. Case closed and dismissed. There was absolutely no need for all of this.”


Despite all the expertise on this matter combined, Jersey would beseech its fans to share their personal views on this sudden call to arms of AIFF.

Is AIFF too harsh on Ranjit Bajaj on the alleged case?


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