All India Football Federation on Tuesday made light of national captain Bhaichung Bhutia's refusal to carry the Beijing Olympics torch and said his decision had nothing to do with AIFF and the country's soccer community.
"Bhutia expressed his desire not to take part for some personal reasons. (It) is purely an expression of his Fundamental Right and his own decision, totally unrelated to AIFF and Football fraternity," AIFF President Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said in a statement.
Bhutia refused to be a part of the torch relay in its India leg on April 17 as a mark of solidarity to Tibetan protesters and emphasised that it was his personal decision.
Dasmunsi pointed out that on several previous occasions, individuals had used sporting events to express themselves on critical issues.
"It is a fact that on several occasions in the past, in the history of international sports and games hosted in several parts of the world, on the grounds of human rights against serious violence, artists, human right activists, players, scientists, academicians and eminent intellectuals, did express their mind in their own individual capacity without any assault to the honour of the Sports or Olympic movement."
He said Bhutia's decision will not hinder the torch relay in India and the country's participation in the Olympics in August.
The AIFF chief said he had a telephonic conversation with Bhutia whose "concern on Lhasa incident is a concern of any other human rights activist or social activist or cultural legacy of the monks, etc, against the violence."