AIFF committee imposes transfer ban on East Bengal

The club is held “guilty” of breaching the terms of contract of defender Sukhdev Singh.

East Bengal intends to submit a plea to the AIFF’s appeal committee.   -  The Hindu

The player status committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has imposed a transfer ban on East Bengal due to irregularities in its attempt to sign defender Sukhdev Singh from I-League champion Minerva Punjab FC.

The committee has found East Bengal “guilty” of breaching the terms of Sukhdev’s then subsisting contract with the Punjab outfit. The Kolkata club cannot register any new player until the expiry of the second transfer window, which is scheduled for January 1-31, 2019.

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East Bengal had signed four players from Minerva in April − Kassim Aidara, Rakshit Dagar, Sukhdev and Deepak Devrani − but the club has been notified only for Sukhdev's transfer.

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar confirmed the development. “The order was sent by the committee this morning. The order was only about Sukhdev’s signing. East Bengal can appeal within the stipulated time frame in the order,” he told Sportstar.

Sukhdev has also been suspended from participating in any competitive match and has been fined ₹50,000 each by the AIFF and Minerva Punjab. According to FIFA rules, a club cannot approach a player from another club without the prior consent from the parent outfit. However, the rule can be ignored if the player has less than six months remaining in his contract.

Ready to appeal

Top East Bengal official, Debabrata Sarkar, however, told Sportstar that the club will appeal against the decision. “We approached the club through our agent and we have even submitted that document to the committee,” Sarkar said.

“According to our legal experts, this committee has no jurisdiction to punish a club. If there are any sanctions, it has to come from the disciplinary committee. We are in touch with our legal team and we will appeal against the decision,” Sarkar said. “We will [submit a] plea to the AIFF’s appeal committee and we are confident of getting a fair judgement. We are optimistic,” he added.

With the I-League beginning next month, East Bengal could be in a soup if it cannot sign any new players.