| Mike Okoro (left) and Jose Ramirez Barreto at the IFA office on Tuesday. Picture by Pabitra Das
Calcutta: IFA secretary Subrata Dutta’s talks of the state body getting tough on errant players faded into a whimper on Tuesday when its disciplinary committee meted out ‘token’ punishments to 13 of the Big Three for on-field violence and assault on referee during Super Division matches.
The committee imposed fines ranging from Rs 10,000 to 30,000 on players and suspended seven of them for one match.
“The players will have to cough up the amount by October 31, failing which they will remain suspended till making the payment,” the IFA secretary said. The players, though, can appeal against the punishment to the governing body within 24 hours of receiving their letters.
The bans will come into effect during the forthcoming IFA Shield, since the Super Division League is as good as over.
Lolendra Singh and Dipak Mondal, the players red-carded for indulging in fisticuffs during the East Bengal-Mohun Bagan September 4 derby, have got away with fines of Rs 10,000. The four-match ban — two games for getting marching orders and two more till the announcement of the decision — the players served have been deemed to be enough for their deeds.
Jose Ramirez Barreto and Mike Okoro, who have been charged with pushing the referee, have been slammed one-match suspensions along with fines of Rs 30,000 each. The duo was implicated after East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick produced a video cassette obtained from a private TV channel before the committee.
Both Barreto and Okoro appeared before the league sub-committee on Tuesday and submitted written apologies saying such acts would not be repeated.
“I can’t remember having committed any such crime. I haven’t seen the footage. This is totally unlike me but am sorry for the incident,” said Barreto.
Okoro was more forthright. “It was a very tense match played in a charged-up atmosphere and all of it happened in the heat of the moment. It hasn’t been fair on my part to push the referee. I’m sorry for the whole episode.”
The sense of relief of surprise on the faces of East Bengal players was evident. “We expected stricter penalties. A fine of Rs 10,000 is minimal,” said a player, who refused to be identified.
The IFA’s action has, however, left Bhowmick livid. “Horrible,” was how he described the committee’s decision.
“The IFA is setting a bad example by letting the players go free so easily. I’m talking from the perspective of Indian football. Nowhere in the world are such incidents treated in such light fashion.
“The footballers have no business touching the referee. Had the Fifa guidelines been in place, they would have to face heavier financial and match bans. In the past, when dealing with incidents like the Chima Okerie-Subrata Bhattacharjee brawl, the IFA has never been so meek.
“I have reprimanded my players immediately after the game. I will never encourage them to appeal against their bans but ask them to apologise,” the East Bengal coach remarked.
East Bengal secretary Kalyan Majumder felt the players should pay the fines themselves. “My personal opinion is that since the players share the prize money, the penalties should also be paid in their personal capacity,” Majumder said.
East Bengal officials Swapan Ball and Debabrata Sarkar along with Bagan’s Om Jhunjhunwala will be barred from entering the technical area for one match. Ball has also been slapped a fine of Rs 10,000. Three Mohammedan Sporting players have also been penalised for misbehaving during their tie against East Bengal.
Who got what
Jose Ramirez Barreto (1 match suspension & Rs 30,000 fine), Mehtab Hossain (1 match suspension & Rs 30,000), Marcos Parreira (Rs 20,000), Lolendra Singh (Rs 10,000), Basudeb Mondal (1 match suspension & Rs 10,000) and Abhay Kumar (1 match suspension & Rs 10,000).
Mike Okoro (1 match suspension & Rs 30,000), Mahesh Gawli (Rs 30,000), Dipak Mondal (Rs 10,000), Debjit Ghosh (Rs 10,000).
Amjad Ali Khan (Rs 10,000), Sheikh Sanjeeb (1 match suspension & Rs 10,000), Zaheer Abbas (1 match suspension & Rs 30,000), Dipendu Biswas and Hossain Mustafi cautioned.