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Kerala Blasters set dangerous precedent with walkout, says CAS: Report

Published at :May 7, 2024 at 12:30 PM
Modified at :May 7, 2024 at 12:30 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Yash Pratap Singh

Kerala Blasters have been handed with a hefty fine and they’ve asked for more time and promised to make payments in instalments.

In a shocking turn of events, Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters FC bid goodbye to their long-serving and most successful manager Ivan Vukomanovic following the conclusion of the 2023-24 ISL season.

The Blasters qualified for the playoffs for the third consecutive season under the Serbian head coach but couldn’t get the better of Odisha FC in the playoffs. During Vukomanovic’s era, Kerala Blasters became one of the most consistent teams having made it to the playoffs thrice in three seasons, including an ISL final appearance.

CAS condemns Kerala Blasters’ action

Ivan Vukomanovic did the world of good to Kerala Blasters, but his walkout against Bengaluru FC in the semi-final of the 2022-23 ISL season turned out to be very expensive for the Blasters. The Serbian manager had instructed his side to move out of the ground after Sunil Chhetri scored from a quickly taken freekick.

Vukomanovic’s action did not go well with the AIFF Disciplinary Committee which imposed a Rs. 4 Crore fine on Kerala Blasters and handed the head coach a 10-match suspension. In their appeal before the court of arbitration for sport (CAS), Kerala Blasters have disclosed that they had imposed a “considerable fine” of approx. Rs. 1 crore on their former head coach, as per the Times of India

As per the appeal, which was ultimately rejected, the club initiated an internal probe and penalized the coach with a USD 120,000 fine.

The CAS noted that the club themselves “considers the behavior of its own coach who led the abandonment of the match to be a serious offense.”

“The club set a dangerous precedent with its behavior. If such behavior is not sanctioned properly with a deterrent sanction, such behavior might occur again in future matches,” Sole Arbitrator Benoit Pasquier noted in the order.

The Arbitrator added that calling off a game because of a referee’s call harms football’s reputation globally and undermines the confidence of the general public and stakeholders in the sport in India.

Kerala Blasters claimed that the penalties imposed on them were unreasonable and referred to a previous walkout instance where Mohun Bagan were fined Rs. 2 crore for refusing to play the second half of their match against East Bengal after one of their players (Syed Rahim Nabi) was hit by a stone from the stands. 

According to the CAS, there is absolutely no basis for a team to choose to withdraw from the field of play in order to challenge a referee’s call during a game.

“The safety and security of the players were not at stake at the match, in comparison to the Mohun Bagan case. Kerala Blasters just walked off the pitch in disagreement with the referees’ decision,” said AIFF.

The Sole Arbitrator pointed out that Blasters’ desertion was motivated by serious fault and that they should pay a deterrence fine to stop such behavior in Indian sport.

“The motive in abandoning the match sets a dangerous precedent in Indian football but also in the world of football. It not only demonstrates a total lack of respect towards the authority of referees that officiate in matches but also towards the fans and commercial supporters that invest resources in the development of football,” said Pasquier.

The AIFF informed the Blasters after they lost their appeal to pay the Rs. 4 crore fine within 30 days. Sources claim that the club has asked for more time and promised to make payments in instalments.

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