The Telegraph
Thursday , January 17 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Double blow to Okolie Odafe

New Delhi/Calcutta: Mohun Bagan captain Okolie Odafe, on Wednesday, was suspended by the I-League committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for his misconduct during the club’s Derby clash against East Bengal on December 9 last year.

According to sources, Odafe has been suspended for two matches — which is mandatory for a direct red card and fined Rs. 10,000 for abusing and shoving the referee during the match. Odafe, though, has denied the allegation while replying to the showcause notice issued by the AIFF.

In addition, the AIFF general secretary Kushal Das issued a letter to the Nigerian footballer, asking him to appear before the disciplinary committee next Monday. “In case you are not able to come to the meeting or send any representative, the matter will be decided by the disciplinary committee from the documents available with us,” Das said in his letter.

“It’s a strange situation,” remarked a former referee. “Now that a verdict has already been announced, how can the (same) person be called again to the disciplinary committee for the same offence?” he asked.

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said he would soon decide on the schedule of the six Bagan matches, which they did not play during the period of suspension.

Making their comeback in the I-League with a game against Salgaocar, in Goa, on January 20, Bagan may have to play another match in between before their next encounter against Prayag United SC. Either United Sikkim FC or Pailan Arrows could be Bagan’s opponent in that game.

Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra admitted that that the club should have handled the situation better on December 9.

“Maybe our way of handling the situation on December 9 was wrong. But the important thing is that we have saved the lives of hundreds of people by refusing to play after the first half, revoked the ban, brought the game back to our footballers and moreover, made all Bagan supporters smile again.

“Our sole focus now is to ensure we beat the drop,” he said after the club executive committee meeting in Calcutta.

On Bagan being barred from attending any meeting of the AIFF for a year, Mitra added: “Most of the teams don’t attend the meeting related to I-League, which is held just once a year. In any case, we are part of the IPFCA (Indian Professional Football Clubs Association). So the members of this body will certainly get in touch with us.”

Bagan will form a five-man committee — comprising president Swapan Sadhan Bose, Mitra, finance secretary Debasish Dutta, assistant secretary Srinjoy Bose and vice-president Subrata Mukherjee — to finalise their course of action regarding Rs 2 crore fine.

East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan, questioned AIFF’s decision to make Bagan start from scratch. “Would they take a similar stance if the Derby had happened to be Mohun Bagan’s first game this I-League?” he asked.