I-League game between Mohun Bagan and Aizawl FC marred by crowd violence

Aizawl FC fans were left dejected and undone by referee Senthil Nathan’s ruling’s against their side during the I-League game vs Mohun Bagan, resulting in the crowd getting violent after the full-time whistle.

football Updated: Jan 25, 2018 21:07 IST
Sarthak Bal
Sarthak Bal
Hindustan Times, Aizawl
I-League,Mohun Bagan,Aizawl FC
The aftermath of the I-League game between defending champions Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan at Aizawl saw crowd violence directed at the referees. (AIFF)

Playing at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl has always been an intimidating task for visiting teams. But on Thursday, in Aizawl FC’s latest home I-League fixture against Mohun Bagan, the referees bore the brunt of it.

Left dejected and undone by referee Senthil Nathan’s ruling’s against their side, the home crowd began to hurl bottles, chairs and even a stone was directed towards the referees as they made their way into the stadium after full-time.

Slogans of ‘Referee Out’ had began to grow in the second-half and by the end of it, words had turned into unjustifiable action.

Key moments from the game that possibly pushed the crowd into reacting likewise, started with Aizawl’s penalty claim when Romanian midfielder Andrie Ionescu’s shot came of the hand of a Bagan defender.

Minutes after denying the home team a penalty; Nathan awarded Bagan one when Akram Moghrabi went down in the box. The final nail in the coffin was skipper Alfred Jaryan’s sending off in the 89th minute.

The crowd converged toward narrow pathway -- the access point between the pitch and the stands, used by players and officials. Security guards took their place between the referees and the crowd as bottles came catapulting from the upper stands.

A chair came flying from the VIP section and a stone was hurled pitch side, almost catching match commissioner Walter Pereira.

As more bottles made their way towards them -- the referees were forced to take shelter in the official’s dugout on the sidelines. Aizwal FC owner, Mr. Roberto Royte hurried down to calm the fans down as police personal gathered on the pitch.

Pereira had decided that the referees would not leave the dugout until all the stands were cleared. “My concern is the safety is the referees. But also the fans and so the stands will have to be cleared out,” he had said.

It had been 45 minutes since the game ended as police personnel began to clear out the upper stands. Violence broke out amidst the crowd as a few peacekeepers clashed with the unruly folk.

And finally, fifteen minutes later, a police van made it way to the sidelines. Armored police personnel cleared the lower stand, blocking every possible entry point onto the pitch as the referees made their walk back; a few bananas and bottles still came their way.

“The crowd is never like this. They reacted like this because of the refereeing today. The hand-ball was clear and it was not given. The penalty was unfair. They (fans) come from all over and were left undone by the referee,” Royte told Hindustan Times of the crowd’s outburst.

However it’s worth noting that Aizawl FC, who have not had the best home run this season, were fined Rs.25,000 after their last home game against East Bengal; once again a result of the crowd’s misconduct.

First Published: Jan 25, 2018 21:07 IST