New Delhi :Realising the seriousness of the controversy surrounding national coach Bob Houghton's resignation, All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel has called the members of the executive committee for a crisis management meeting on Thursday.
In a bid to defuse the crisis, Patel will have an informal dinner meeting at his residence with all the committee members before the executive meets the next day (Friday).
Even as Patel started talking to senior AIFF officials, he maintained that Houghton has not resigned.
"The news about Houghton resigning as the football coach is not correct. I myself spoke to him last night in Cape Town. I think the only issue between the AIFF and the coach is that Houghton wants to know his future post-January 2011, when his contract comes to an end," Patel, who is also the civil aviation minister, told reporters outside Parliament Tuesday.
Patel said that there is no other issue between him and the federation.
"Bob continues to be our coach and I am sure the Indian team will play under his leadership in the Asian Cup in Doha in January. The news about the shoddy treatment meted out to him was incorrect," Patel added.
Patel said that the executive committee will meet Friday to discuss the issue.
"We are meeting Friday where this issue will also be discussed. Once again, Houghton has not resigned," Patel said.
Houghton resigned as India's chief football coach Monday following his differences with AIFF secretary general Alberto Colaco.
A top official in the AIFF told IANS that Patel has requested Houghton to reconsider his decision.
"But Patel will have some tough time in pacifying the executive committee members, who are angry with Colaco. Thanks to Colaco, Indian football is facing another crisis," the source said.
The official said that differences between Houghton and Colaco reached the flash point when the secretary general during his visit to Malaysia for an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) meeting last month, met a top agent and asked him to look for a replacement for Houghton.
"Despite several differences, Houghton was willing to extend his contract after the mega-event and had even informed Colaco about it on April 5. But when Houghton heard that Colaco had asked the agent to look for a new coach, he was furious and resigned Monday through an e-mail, giving a notice of three months," the official said.
Speaking from Cape Town, Houghton said: "Yes, I have resigned. But it is a more complicated issue."