Bhaichung prepares for legal battle

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia has started exploring legal options after soccer club Mohun Bagan suspended him for 6 months.

Updated: June 09, 2009 13:46 IST
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India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia who was on Monday suspended by Mohun Bagan club for six months, has started exploring legal options with his lawyer Usha Nath Banerjee on Tuesday asserting that the footballer was no longer a registered player with the Kolkata club.

Stating that the football season was over and Bhutia was no longer a registered Bagan player, Banerjee said that he would be a "free footballer" till he registers himself again with the Indian Football Association (IFA) for 2009-10 season.

"Bhutia has a contract with Mohun Bagan till 2010. But his contract does not become operative until he registers himself with IFA," Banerjee told reporters here.

"Bhaichung has personally requested me to represent him. So I'm here for my client. However, I will not disclose our next move which you will come to know shortly," Banerjee said.

However, Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra said their decision to suspend Bhutia is completely in accordance with the rule.

"Our decision is very much within the framework of the rulebook. Who says the season is over? It will get over on June 25 after which also he will be a contracted Mohun Bagan player. He is not a free player," Mitra said.

"I don't want to spoil his career. His lawyer is creating confusion and giving wrong advice," he added.

Banerjee questioned the charges made by Mohun Bagan against Bhutia and asked, "Why was he not punished when he missed practice sessions or when he participated in a dance reality show?

"The coach was always satisfied with him and if he was unfit, then why was he included in the side to play the I-League matches? They should have punished him then," the lawyer said.

"It cannot be a ground for suspension. Rulebook does not say that. It means Mohun Bagan has gone above FIFA, AFC and AIFF in punishing Bhutia," Banerjee added.

He also alleged that by suspending Bhutia, Mohun Bagan wanted to finish the career of the footballer.

"They want to finish Bhutia and football. They know there are a lot of matches in the next six months. It's intentional. But as his lawyer, let me be clear that Bhutia will not sit idle," Banerjee said.

Mohun Bagan had suspended Bhutia for six months citing 'violation of rules and regulations'.

Bhutia had sought a release from Mohun Bagan after his commitment to the club was questioned and a showcause notice was served on him last month, although the request was turned down by the club later.

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