Englishman Bob Houghton has resigned from his post as head coach of India with years still to run on his contract. An official statement from the All India Football Federation said that he was leaving “for personal reasons”.
The football reasons weren’t much chop either. After qualifying for the Asian Cup in January this year, Houghton’s India were easily despatched by all three group opponents and failed to progress.
But the simmering issue went back to an incident during India’s 3-6 loss to Yemen in October last year. Houghton was alleged to have called fourth official Dinesh Nair a “bastard Indian referee” during an angry exchange on the touchline. Nair made a written report of the incident to the match commissioner.
On 26 March this year, Houghton was issued with a ‘show cause’ notice by the AIFF on several grounds including the racial abuse charge and derogatory remarks about Indian football in general. Houghton referred to the allegations as “baseless” and appeared to have the support of national team players who wrote to the AIFF on his behalf.
The former Fulham player had been at the helm of India for 5 years. His managerial career has included spells with Hastings United, Maidstone United, Malmö FF (where he took them to the 1979 Champions Cup Final only to lose to Nottingham Forest), Ethnikos Piraeus, Bristol City, Toronto Blizzard, Al-Ittihad, Örgryte IS, Malmö FF, Al-Ittihad, FC Zürich, Colorado Rapids, China, Shanghai Pudong, Sichuan Quanxing, Zhejiang Greentown, Uzbekistan and Changsha Ginde. Phew!