Mohun Bagan skipper Okolie Odafa was shown the red card for abusing referee Vishnu Chauhan, match commissioner Gulab Chauhan has written in his report.
The report states that even after being assured that their safety wouldn’t be compromised, Mohun Bagan refused to play the second half of Sunday’s I-League 6 match against East Bengal at the Salt Lake stadium. The match, Chauhan has written, had resumed in first-half stoppage time only after “getting a positive signal” from the police authority.
HT has accessed Chauhan’s report. It states that a representative was sent twice to the Mohun Bagan dressing room asking them to come out after half-time after which the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) match commissioner went and even requested coach Karim Bencherifa to field the team. Bencherifa had said he isn’t authorised to take that decision, the report states.
Chauhan has written that he conveyed to Uttam Saha, the Bagan manager, after half-time the police telling him that the situation was under control and that he should not worry about security.
To this, the manager sought time during which he spoke on his phone but returned to say the club wouldn’t budge from its stand, the report states.
Bagan’s stand essentially was that they were feeling insecure and hence unable to continue.
They were given a further 15 minutes, according to the report, before Chauhan informed match officials and East Bengal to return to their dressing rooms.
Legal opinion sought by the AIFF too hints at punishment for the 123-year-old club because the circumstances leading up to not playing cannot, according to the lawyer consulted, be interpreted as a case of force majeure. HT has a copy of the draft.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of force majeure in a judgment, one the draft claims has been “widely relied upon time and again till date”, it mentions “the game continuing peacefully during the extended time of the First Half.
McDowell Mohun Bagan only during the break unilaterally decided not to continue to play during the second session, despite total normalcy…” the draft states.
The legal opinion mentions stone-pelting “that too for a very limited time” in a football match is “widely common” and refers to Sunday’s Manchester derby where Rio Ferdinand was hit by a coin from the stands but the match wasn’t abandoned.
The lawyer summed up his argument stating that Bagan’s refusal to play breached I-league rules and its consequences — a two-season ban and being scratched from this edition — “automatically comes into effect.”
In 2006, AIFF suspended a club for refusing to play.
Goa club Fransa didn’t turn up for the game against Air India in a National League, a competition which preceded the I-League.
They were protesting refereeing decisions in the match against Mahindra United which they lost 1-2. The club was disbanded in March 2006.