Senior India players and members of the coaching staff have written to Praful Patel, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president, almost unanimously disputing the racism charge levelled against national coach Bob Houghton.
On February 26, Sunil Chhetri had spoken out in Houghton's defence but this is the first time players and coaches have taken such a stand and written to Patel.
Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary, confirmed receiving the letter on Friday. "It is a simple letter stating that no one heard Bob making such a comment," Das said, speaking from New Delhi.
"The AIFF follows a democratic process and, at some point, we will let Bob explain his side of things on various issues raised by the executive committee, the technical committee and this racist comment because it is mentioned in the match commissioner's report," Das said.
One of the signatories, a player who didn't wish to be named, said they felt it was their duty to clarify given that such a serious charge was made against the head coach. "Forget being racist, he wouldn't even swear at players during training, something we all know is fairly common in football," the player, who was part of the Asian Cup squad in Doha, told the Hindustan Times on Saturday.