The All India Football Federation (AIFF) Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned SC East Bengal Head Coach Mr Robbie Fowler for breaching Article 50 (misconduct against match officials) of the AIFF Disciplinary Code. He has been suspended for 4 matches and fined Rs 5 lakh. This punitive action is specifically in regard to Mr Fowler’s criticism of on-field refereeing decisions in matches of the Hero Indian Super League 2020-21 season involving SC East Bengal.
Article 50.4 of the AIFF Disciplinary Code provides that fine and/or match suspension, as may be deemed suitable by the Disciplinary Committee, may be imposed for any person engaging in public criticism or making any adverse comment (such as about the integrity of a person) in media, press conferences etc. anytime against a Match Official.
The adverse remarks have questioned and cast aspersions on the integrity and honesty of the Match Officials who have supervised the matches with the best of their abilities with sincerity and maintaining neutrality. Moreover, anyone making any criticism through public media must be extremely cautious to ensure that under the garb of criticism and remarks in no way defame someone either directly or by innuendos.
This is not unprecedented in the Hero ISL. In the 2017-18 season, Mr Ranko Popovic, then FC Pune City Head Coach, was meted out the same punishment for his outburst against Match Officials. Even last season, Mr Antonio Lopez Habas (then ATK FC Head Coach) and Mr Eelco Schattorie (then Kerala Blasters FC Head Coach) were also handed similar punishments by the AIFF.
However, the Committee, taking note of certain media reports clarified that none of Mr Fowler’s comments was racist ones.