Probe begins against UP football body

A probe has been initiated against the Uttar Pradesh Football Sangh, following allegations of large-scale irregularities by a group of players. In a petition signed by several players, it has been alleged that the UPFS has been ‘hijacked’ by a don-turned-politician, who is calling the shots from jail.

Members of the probe team recently visited Varanasi, where the UPFS headquarters is and are likely to submit their report to the government soon.

In the past also, a few footballers had raised the issue with former Sports Minister Chetan Chauhan, but before he could intervene, he was shifted from the ministry.

UP Sports Minister Upendra Tewari and Sports Director R.P. Singh, meanwhile, expressed their inability to deal with the ‘football mafia’. “This is the matter of the association. We cannot do anything,” they said.

The UPFS is still under control of its former secretary Shamsuddin a.k.a. Babu Khan, who was arrested four years ago under POCSO Act for assaulting a minor female player.

The victim has been fighting the case against Babu Khan, who is said to be close to an imprisoned mafia don-turned-politician. Babu Khan is presently out on bail.

Last year, when the victim had held a protest at the office of the sports director here seeking action against her tormentor, she was threatened to withdraw her complaint.

Another girl has also lodged a sexual harassment complaint in Varanasi, alleging that he attempted to molest her when she went to get her sports certificates.

Later, following complaints by the player, the National Commission for Women (NCW) asked the Nadesar police in Varanasi to lodge a complaint against him.

A state-level footballer, Mohit Singh, said that “after facing sexual harassment charges, Babu Khan handed over reins of UPFS to his son”.

Despite repeated attempts, Babu Khan could not be contacted for his version.

Recently, in reply to an RTI query, the sports department has stated that in its records, the UPFS does not exist, while for over a decade it has been granting budgets and providing its best grounds to the association for holding tournaments.