The All India Football Federation’s Disciplinary Committee has imposed a 10 lakh fine on five clubs who refused to participate in the Super Cup held in March-April. Kolkata’s East Bengal was fined 5 lakhs as their sponsors had backed out and not the club while Mohun Bagan remained innocent.
Former champions Aizawl FC, Minerva Punjab FC, Churchill Brothers, Gokulam Kerala FC and Neroca FC had all pulled out of the elite knockout tournament, which also saw the ISL clubs participating, after their repeated requests to meet AIFF President Praful Patel fell on deaf ears.
The Disciplinary Committee, which consisted of Ushanath Banerjee (chairman), Harsh Vora, Adithya Reddy, Prateek Chadda and Dr Madhab Milan Ghosh, had heard the clubs on March 27 and 28 and decided to slap a fine of Rs. 10 lakhs.
“The Committee thus imposed penalty of Rs 10 lakh upon Aizawl FC, Churchill Brothers, Gokulam Kerala FC, Minerva Punjab FC, and NEROCA, each, to be utilised exclusively for benefit and further development of football at grassroot level and towards promotion of youth football in the country through proper transparent modalities with appropriate checks and balances and audit,” read the six-page judgment, reported PTI.
“In default of payment by any club, the AIFF would be at liberty to consider disqualification of the clubs from participation in its next edition competitions,” it added.
East Bengal, however, have been asked to pay Rs 5 lakh for pulling out of Super Cup, while their rival, Mohun Bagan were left unharmed for they didn’t sign for participation. The Committee though has referred Mohun Bagan’s case for arbitration.
“The club [East Bengal] cannot be held guilty of indiscipline or misconduct. It is the sponsors of the club (Quess) who committed so and intended to jeopardise the integrity of the competition. Balancing upon the degree of culpability the Committee felt that in order to reduce the humiliation upon East Bengal, quantum of fine should be less than the other clubs and imposed penalty of Rs 5 lakh.”
The I-League clubs had revolted against the federation sending a letter on February 18 where they requested the AIFF president to address issues like clarity of the future of I-League and lack of an agenda for the game at the grassroots level. While the promised meeting between Patel and the I-League clubs is yet to happen, the order saw this rebel as a “hijack”.
“Sports bodies cannot be hijacked or held under any threat by a group of vested interested persons or the clubs. Neither the president nor any office bearer has any individual power or authority to do so.
“Hence, demanding that unless the ‘President’ of the AIFF meets a particular Group of Clubs, they would not participate in the National Competition that too after entering the Competition and undertaking to ensure faithful compliances of the Regulations of the Competition, is nothing but intending to hold the National Federation under ransom and such subversive conduct cannot be claimed to be ‘bonafide’ and should be dealt with appropriately,” it further read.