The Kerala Blasters manager faced sanctions from the AIFF’s Disciplinary Committee, and Crystal John provided his statement.

Ivan Vukomanovic, the head coach of Kerala Blasters Football Club, was charged by the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Disciplinary Committee for abandoning the team’s Indian Super League match against Bengaluru FC on 3rd March 2023. AIFF Disciplinary Committee turned down the pleas for a rematch before.

Now the AIFF’s statement read that Vukomanovic had been found guilty of “breaching the AIFF Disciplinary Code Article 32 for walking off the field of play before the conclusion of the game, refusing to comply with the match officials and refusing to carry out his duties as the head coach of the team.”

Vukomanovic’s charges

All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Disciplinary Committee has charged Vukomanovic for “bringing the game into disrepute” after he asked his team to walk off the field against Bengaluru FC, following the referee’s decision that allowed Sunil Chettri to score from an on-spot free-kick in the fourth minute of the first half of the extra time.

The Serbian manager previously stood out about poor referring decisions made in the past. The coach said to TOI that it was a culmination of circumstances, including last season’s final against Hyderabad FC, when the referee (Crystal John) made a controversial call regarding a “last man foul”.

Regarding Vukomanovic’s decision to abandon the match, it is important to note that walking out of a match goes against the spirit of the game and can result in disciplinary action. The AIFF has charged Vukomanovic with breaching disciplinary code articles for his actions, and he has been given time to respond to the charges. Ultimately, it will be up to the disciplinary committee to determine the appropriate course of action.

Referee Crystal John and match official Amit Dharap’s explanation

A quick free-kick cannot be taken almost half a minute later. When the referee made such a big error and allowed Chhetri to score in violation of the rules and against the spirit of the game, the coach thought it necessary to stand his ground. Blasters never intended to abandon the game. The match officials did not engage with the team,” said the official Amit Dharap to TOI.

“I instructed the manager of KBFC Manish Anoopkumar Kochar, that “If the head coach would like to speak with me I will do so near the touchline.” This offer was refused by  Ivan Vukomanovic and the entire team along with their coaching staff went to the stadium’s dressing room,”  Crystal John added in conversation with TOI.

“He took the team manager to have a conversation with Ivan Vukomanovic and inform him of the repercussions of the team not returning to the field of play. They continued to stay in the dressing room. The match official Amit Dharap added in the official report.

Under Article 58 of the AIFF Disciplinary Code (of 2021), dealing with “abandonment” of matches, Kerala Blasters could cough up a Rs 6 lakh fine and even maybe handed disqualification from the competition in progress and/or exclusion from future competition.

Vukomanovic submits a report

Ivan Vukomanovic has submitted a report where he highlighted the point of views of his players and former referees who said that the referee cannot award a “quick free-kick” when there is a halt more than 20 seconds.

Gautam Kar, The former director of referees at All India Football Federation is also agreed with the coach and according to his point of view, the referee made a wrong decision to allow the goal to stand. His opinion has been included in the record.

According to an AIFF source, multiple hearings could happen before a decision a pronunciation by the AIFF panel.

According to Article 58.1: “If a team refuses to play a Match or to continue playing one which has begun, it has committed an offence. Penalty: forfeit of the Match; and fine of at least INR 6,00,000 (Rupees Six Lakh).”

But Article 58.2 reads as: “In serious cases, the offence is aggravated. Penalty: forfeit of the Match; and fine of at least INR 6,00,000 (Rupees Six Lakhs); and disqualification from a competition in progress and/or exclusion from a future competition.” 

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