Kerala Blasters is likely to appeal against the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Disciplinary Committee’s decision on Friday to fine them Rs 4 crore for walking off the pitch and thereby forfeiting their Indian Super League playoff match against Bengaluru FC in Bengaluru on March 3.
After hearing all the parties concerned, the AIFF Disciplinary Committee – chaired by Vaibhav Gaggar – also directed the Blasters to issue a ‘public apology’ for the unsporting conduct of abandoning the match, failing which the total fine would be increased to Rs 6 crore.
The club is yet to officially come out with its response but sources in the team said that Blasters would appeal against the national body’s order.
Despite the walkout, there is a huge wave of support for Blasters from their fans – the club is the team with the biggest fan base in the ISL – and it is not clear at this stage whether the public apology would happen, though the threat that the penalty would be raised by Rs 2 crore could move the club to come out with one.
The Blasters’ walkout happened after a hotly-disputed goal scored by Bengaluru’s Sunil Chhetri off a freekick. The Kochi-based club had filed a protest to the AIFF earlier against referee Crystal John for the manner in which he allowed Chhetri to take the freekick that resulted in the goal. But it was rejected.
The AIFF Disciplinary Committee’s order on Friday also punished the Blasters’ head coach Ivan Vukomanovic, who it said had instigated the team to abandon the match and brought the game into disrepute, with a 10-match suspension from AIFF-held tournaments irrespective of whichever team he is contracted with, along with a fine of Rs 5 lakh under Article 9.1.2 (of the AIFF disciplinary code).
This will mean that Vukomanovic would not be permitted to be a part of the team’s dressing room or the team bench.
Vukomanovic has also been directed to issue a ‘public apology’ for his misconduct failing which the fine to be imposed on him would be increased to Rs 10 lakh along with the ban.
The disciplinary committee has directed the Blasters and Vukomanovic to comply with this order within one week. However, the club and the head coach have a right to file an appeal against the order.
The Blasters are scheduled to play the Super Cup, the tournament will see ISL and I-League teams fight each other, which begins in Kozhikode and Manjeri on April 8.
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