| Ramez Dayoub |
Calcutta: There was drama till Wednesday afternoon over Selangor FA defender Ramez Dayoub.
The Lebanese defender was banned for life by his country’s football association on Tuesday following allegations that he rigged international and regional matches.
But till Wednesday afternoon Selangor persisted that Dayoub is eligible to play the AFC Cup match against East Bengal since there was no written directive from either the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) or the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
“Even match officials were not sure on the Dayoub issue... The rule says that unless and until the AFC issues a letter banning a certain player, he is eligible to play football,” an East Bengal source informed.
The hosts were jittery since they were aware of the fact that Dayoub could have been the deciding factor had he played the match. Frantic calls were made to a manager in the competition department who looks after the AFC Cup, and he was urged to stop Selangor from fielding Dayoub.
The AFC officials in turn got in touch with the FAM. “It was at lunch time that our association informed us that Dayoub was not eligible to play,” Selangor coach Irfan Bakti said after the match.
“We were not sure about the rules. Dayoub wanted to play and came to the stadium also,” he said. Dayoub, though, defended himself and said he is a victim. “I am not guilty. They have suspended me and accused me of match-fixing without any evidence or proof,” Dayoub said.
“This is a serious allegation and I have no doubt there’s something behind this. If I am really guilty of match-fixing, Fifa will investigate and suspend me, not the Lebanese FA.”
Bakti said Dayoub’s absence was a shattering blow to the team’s morale.
“We were shocked… He is very much an integral part of our team… But then for a professional footballer, life moves on… We will help him in every possible way.”
Dayoub’s contract with Selangor runs till November, but if the ban stays then the club may look for some other foreigner.
“The club has already told me to scout for a good defender… But that doesn’t mean we are not with Dayoub,” Bakti added.
East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan, however, felt that Dayoub’s absence was not the deciding factor.
“Yeah some players did talk about the ban since they knew him, but otherwise it was okay,” Morgan said.
Dayoub was with East Bengal for three months in 2009, but could not be registered as a player as the International Transfer Certificate never arrived.