New Delhi: Mohun Bagan captain Okolie Odafe was punished for the second time in less than one week for his violent conduct during the I-League match against East Bengal at the Salt Lake Stadium on December 9 last year.
The Nigerian was banned on December 15 for two matches and fined Rs 10,000 by the I-League committee for his red-card offence against East Bengal. On Monday, the disciplinary committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) extended the ban to one more match and also slapped an additional fine of Rs 1,50,000.
While a former Fifa referee feared the AIFF decision might not sound convincing if the Bagan footballer decides to go for an appeal, the AIFF in a release said: “The committee reviewed all the documents, the video of the match and interrogated Okolie Odafe who was present during the hearing.
“After taking into consideration an unconditional apology from Odafe, the committee imposed an additional one-match ban (in I-League 2012/13) and also imposed a fine of Rs. 1,50,000 on the Mohun Bagan player.”
The AIFF, however, did not specify the rule under which the suspension period of the Nigerian was extended.
Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra later said: “We are upset. Let Odafe return from Delhi… Then we will decide whether to appeal against the decision.”
Odafe, along with former footballer and his agent, Chima Okorie, appeared in front of the disciplinary committee, headed by N.A. Khan, former president of the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association.
Said a former referee: “Odafe was already punished under the disciplinary code. It’s surprising how he was reprimanded again for the same offence.”
According to sources, there was also no video evidence available of the prolific goal-scorer instigating the crowd during the match.
Mohun Bagan refused to play the second half of the same match and was banned till the 2014-15 I-League. The ban, though, was revoked later, with the club let off with a Rs 2 crore fine.
However, there wasn’t any let off on the field as Bagan were drubbed 0-2 by Salgaocar SC in their comeback game on Sunday. With Odafe to be sidelined for two more matches, the going won’t get any easier for the green-and-maroon brigade even though United Sikkim FC are their next opponents, at home.
Bagan must win against Bhaichung Bhutia’s team on Thursday. Else, they could be in for further embarrassment on Sunday against Prayag United SC.