New Delhi: Experienced Englishman Bob Houghton’s productive five year stint as Indian football coach came to an end on Saturday after a bitter stand-off with the All India Football Federation (AIFF), which had charged him for racially abusing an Indian referee.

Houghton, who has been facing an inquiry from a three member AIFF panel on charges of racially abusing Indian referee Dinesh Nair in an international friendly tie against Yemen last year.

Subsequently, he tendered his resignation, bringing an end to his eventful association with Indian football since June 2006.

A release from the AIFF said that the racial abuse charges against Houghton has been dropped in the absence of evidence while the coach has decided to quit due to personal reasons.

“The AIFF has perused the reply filed by Robert Douglas Houghton to the showcause notice dated 25.03.2011 issued to him. It has also conducted internal investigations through an inquiry committee and a report has been submitted to the AIFF.

“Based on the report of the inquiry committee, the AIFF feels that in the absence of any definitive and concrete evidence the allegations against Houghton cannot be sustained and therefore the AIFF agrees to withdraw all charges and allegations made against him,” the AIFF release said.

“However, Houghton, for his personal reasons, does not wish to continue working in India and in his position as the Head Coach of the Indian Football Team. Houghton has therefore tendered his resignation. His resignation is accepted by the AIFF. The parties have mutually agreed to terminate the employment contract of Houghton,” it added.

The AIFF did not say anything about the compensation to be given to Houghton whose contract was to run till 2013.

For the past few days after Houghton submitted a written reply to the AIFF panel on April 11, there had been reports of negotiations going on between Houghton and the federation to settle the issue.

Houghton had in his reply to the show cause on March 23 had denied the racial abuse charges levelled against him, terming them as “baseless“.

But apparently, the initiative for a negotiated settlement had come from Houghton’s side as he did not want his reputation to be sullied.

Sources said the AIFF agreed to drop the racial abuse charges if Houghton quits immediately.

(Agencies)