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AIFF finds Minerva Punjab owner 'guilty' of racial abuse

Kolkata -- I-League champions Minerva Punjab FC's owner Ranjit Bajaj has been banned for one year from all football activities and also fined Rs 10 lakh by the AIFF after the federation found him 'guilty' of making racist remarks against a referee.

The AIFF's Disclipinary Committee said this was the fourth offence committed by Bajaj within a span of year.

The latest incident happened during Minerva's Under-18 Youth League play-off match against Aizawl FC that ended in a 1-1 draw at JLN Stadium in Shillong on May 12. According to the disciplinary committee's finding, Bajaj hurled racial comments and abuses against referee Pynskhemhame Mawthoh, who is of North East descent.

"The Committee holds Bajaj guilty of committing serious gross acts of infringements and imposes with sanction of suspension of 12 months," the disciplinary committee said in its 11-page report. 

During the period of suspension, Bajaj will be "banned" from all football-related activities including entry into the stadium during any tournament organised by AIFF.

The fine of Rs 10 lakh has to be paid by Bajaj within a period of 10 days from the date of communication of this decision which was made yesterday.

"In default of which, suspension and the ban shall continue for the delayed period over and above 12 months, till payment in full," the AIFF disciplinary committee, chaired by Ushanath Banerjee, said in the report.

Match commissioner Biswajit Mitra also gave his account of the details in the disciplinary committee report and concurred that Bajaj had hurled racial abuses, something the Minerva owner has denied.

"Bajaj acted like a criminal indulging in series of hooliganism, abusing the match officials in filthy language, threatening them openly, making racist remarks against them. Certainly, none of these can be equated with an educated guardian of a sports club," the report said. 

In a tweet from the club's official Twitter account, Miverva responded to the AIFF's decision saying they were "shocked" and that "this is a coordinated effort to paint him out to be an unruly person". 

"All allegations are completely false and have been applied just to frame Mr. Bajaj under such sections to be able to give a harsh and disproportionate punishment," their statement added. 

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