Anas on three-match ban: I didn't hurt anybody

Kerala Blasters defender Anas Edathodika maintains that he was unfairly awarded a three-match ban after the infamous tunnel fight between players of Jamshedpur FC and FC Goa during a Super Cup quarterfinal match in April this year.

Kerala Blasters' Anas Edathodika (left), Bengaluru FC 's Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, and Chennaiyin FC 's Jeje Lalpekhlua (right) pose during the Indian Super League Media Day in Bengaluru on Thursday.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Anas Edathodika will miss his first three matches with Kerala Blasters as he serves a three-match ban after the infamous tunnel fight between players of Jamshedpur FC and FC Goa during a Super Cup quarterfinal match in April this year.

It has been five months since the ban was enforced, but the former Jamshedpur defender took up the subject of his ban in his first official ISL media interaction in Bengaluru on Thursday.

He said he was unjustly punished for a crime he never committed. "I found out very recently that if you hold back and prevent a player from fighting another player, you get banned," Anas commented sarcastically. "Look at any video available. Who did I beat? I have no idea. I have a three-match ban. I didn't go to confront anybody or do anything. Even the opposition (FC Goa) coach knows what I did," he added.

After a referee ruled out Brandon Fernandes' goal for FC Goa after watching TV replays during the Super Cup match against Jamshedpur, the players and coaches of both teams were embroiled in an ugly spat while heading to the dressing rooms at half-time.

It soon engorged into a scuffle which resulted in bans and fines for three players from each side. Anas found himself in the thick of it all and was one of the three players to face AIFF's wrath. Jamshedpur lost the match 5-1, forcing Anas to serve out the ban in the ISL.

The defender narrated his version of the story: "In fact, I was holding back the coach. He (FC Goa assistant coach Derreck Pereira) was my coach in 2012; he made me a better player and gave me opportunities and I even became one of the best players in Pune. I was holding him back and didn't beat anybody."

"When I came back, I was handed a three match ban and a Rs. 1 lakh fine. I don't even mind the fine, but I have no idea why I got the three-match ban," he reiterated.

"I have explained what happened to many players, officials and other concerned members, but I haven't got any answer from them yet. I shouldn't have got the ban, but I haven't appeal or filed a case. Losing money is not a problem, but missing three matches because of a ban doesn't look good on a player's profile."

He went on to add that he had mellowed down even on field. "As a defender, when I was in Mumbai and Pune, I have done my fair amount of fighting and received many red cards, but as I gained experience, I realised junior players will observe and learn a lot from me, so I have tried to cut it down," the Mallapuram-based footballer said. 

Anas will miss the Blasters' games against ATK, Mumbai City and Delhi Dynamos.

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