Some of the games will be remembered for all the wrong reasons due to these incidents.
In recent years, followers of Indian football have increased tremendously and so has the passion and anticipation from the fans. There is no harm in passionately loving your team and sporting their colours, but when this love and passionate takes an unnecessary turn and creates an atmosphere of tension for the players, spectators and everyone present in the moment, then it is a cause for concern.
This has been the case in a lot of matches involving the Kolkata giants, mainly because of the tension which remains high during these big-ticket clashes. However, sometimes it takes a very ugly turn which may result in tempers flaring and things taking the violent route. It has happened quite a few times in Indian football and we pick some of the most notable infamous incidents that have happened in recent years.
5. ATK Vs Kerala Blasters (12th January, 2020)
The incident took place during an Indian Super League match between ATK and Kerala Blasters at the Salt Lake stadium. Kerala Blasters were absorbing pressure and nullifying the ATK attack. It was only in the last quarter that Eelco Schattorie’s men managed to score a goal through Holicharan Narzary. There were signs of frustration and anguish among the ATK players and also from the dugout.
A few controversial decisions went against the hosts and the volcano was gradually building just waiting to erupt. The situation reached boiling point when a goal from ATK was ruled out for offside. Antonio Habas and goalkeeping coach Angel Pindado had a confrontation with Schattorie and his assistant Ishfaq Ahmed. Both head coaches were handed a two-game suspension and were also fined ₹1 lac each. Pindado was handed a similar suspension, but was fined ₹2 lacs for kicking Ahmed in an ill-tempered encounter.
4. Jamshedpur FC Vs FC Goa (12th April, 2018)
The quarter-final of the Hero Super Cup between FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC took a violent turn, as the referee yielded a whopping six red cards, sending off three players from each side at half-time. It all started after the Gaurs’ Brandon Fernandes had opened the scoring just before the break. However, it appeared that the ball had previously gone out of play, but Fernandes resumed play anyway and hit the roof of the net. The referee, who had initially allowed the goal, reversed his decision to rule it out after receiving inputs from officials who had access to TV replays.
Subsequently, after the half-time whistle, players from the two teams seemed to have a tussle in the tunnel. As a result, the match official had to send off six players including Brandon Fernandes, Sergio Juste, Bruno Pinheiro of Goa and Kervens Belfort, Subrata Paul and Anas Edathodika of Jamshedpur. The Men of Steel’s goalkeeping coach Robert Andrew too was suspended. The latter half of the game was played 8v8 between the two teams, as Goa thrashed Jamshedpur 5-1 to proceed to the semi-final of the tournament.
3. Chennaiyin FC Vs FC Goa (20th December, 2015)
It was a very fierce final encounter between FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC in 2015. The Gaurs were leading the game at the 90th-minute mark, when their experienced custodian Laxmikant Kattimani scored an own-goal and later in the same minute Stiven Mendoza added to the misery and handed Chennaiyin a famous win. The Marina Machans went on to lift their first ISL title after a dramatic comeback.
However, things weren’t very rosy after the final whistle, as FC Goa officials and players were busy blaming the match referee for some of his calls. In the meantime, Elano stepped up to resolve the distress, but was allegedly heckled by some of the Gaurs’ Indian players. Later, the then FC Goa co-owner Dattaraj Salgaocar claimed that Elano had assaulted him and even filed an FIR against the Brazilian midfielder. Elano was arrested and was taken to the police station, but was released on bail. It was one of the rare moments in ISL history where things took a very ugly turn.
2. Aizawl FC Vs Mohun Bagan (25th January, 2018)
Playing at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl is a challenge in itself and on top of that come the passionate home fans. It was an I-League game between Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan and multiple controversial decisions from the referee Senthil Nathan resulted in crowd agitation and violence.
Nathan denied a penalty call from the home team, as Andrei Ionescu’s shot was handled by a Mohun Bagan defender in the box. However, a few moments later, he awarded a spot-kick to the Mariners when Akram Moghrabi was brought down in the penalty area. Thereafter, things got heated when midfielder and Aizawl fan-favourite Alfred Jaryan was sent off in the 89th minute.
Abuses were hurled at the referee and other match officials along with bottles, chairs and even stones from the stands. A chair came flying in from the VIP area and landed near match commissioner Walter Pereira. Police gathered on the pitch and gradually started clearing the stands. It was one of the most ugly brawls in the recent history of the league.
1. Mohun Bagan Vs East Bengal (9th December, 2012)
Probably the worst case of crowd violence in Indian football at least in this decade. It was a fierce Kolkata Derby and tensions were high like always. Bagan went down by a goal and to add to that, their talismanic striker Odafa Okolie was sent off. As a result, fan protests took a very violent turn, as they started hurling abuses and throwing all kinds of stuff towards the referee.
Suddenly, a stone came flying and struck Mohun Bagan player Syed Rahim Nabi. It was actually intended for the match referee, but Nabi came in the line of fire. He was rushed to the nearest hospital, as there was blood all over the ground.
A mouth-watering fixture on a Sunday afternoon with 85,000 spectators at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan should be an iconic experience for any supporter, one that they will savour for the rest of their life. But, what could have been historic for all the right reasons is still remembered for all the wrong ones.