Calcutta: Bhaichung Bhutia was surprised after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) revoked the Mohun Bagan ban on Tuesday.
"I'm happy for the fans and the supporters that the ban was removed… But, to be frank, I was a bit surprised with the ban being revoked. This seemed like a criminal escaped punishment only by paying a penalty! Bhutia told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
Bhutia also took a strong disliking to the fact that the Bagan officials were left scot-free.
"The fine was not a huge amount at all… Many of their players draw almost a same amount of salary annually. I think the AIFF should have also fined the officials who took the decision to withdraw the Bagan team on December 9."
Bagan were banned under the rule 22 (C), which states that a club should be banned for two seasons if they withdraw from a match. Asked whether the rule was draconian, Bhutia said: "I don't want to delve into the argument whether the rule 22 (C) is draconian or not… But I believe that football has to grow in the country… And hopefully, this incident will not portray the game in a wrong way… We should be careful that the game does not become a pawn in the hands of those who have money."