I-League champions Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj was on Monday banned for one year from any football activity and fined Rs 10 lakh for being found 'guilty' of making racist remarks.
Club director Henna Bajaj refuted all the charges, saying Ranjit was framed and proper procedure was not followed while punishing him.
This was the fourth instance by Ranjit within a span of one year and thus the punishment was meted out to him, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Disciplinary Committee said on Monday.
The 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.
"He has been banned for a year as this was becoming too much," an AIFF official close to the development said.
The fine of Rs 10 lakh has to be paid by Ranjit within a period of 10 days from the date of communication of this decision which was made on Sunday.
"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," Henna Bajaj told IANS over the phone.
Ranjit had complained about the Aizawl match referees being from the Northeast which was not fair. And the real issue is the terrible refereeing which the AIFF is not paying heed to.
"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.," she said.
"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," she added.
"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.
According to the disciplinary committee's finding, Ranjit hurled racial comments and abuses against the referee Pynskhemhame Mawthoh who hails from the Northeast.
Match commissioner Biswajit Mitra also gave his account of the details in the disciplinary committee report.
"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," it added.
Besides winning the I-League this year, Minerva has also won the U-15 league title (Nike Premier Cup) and the U-13 youth league recently.