ISL club SC East Bengal on Friday denied filing a ‘review plea’ or request to AIFF regarding head coach Robert Fowler’s suspension and fine in the Indian Super League.
There were media reports that East Bengal had made a request to chairman of All India Football Federation’s disciplinary committee Ushanath Banerjee in relation to Fowler’s suspension and fine. The reports further claimed that the club’s request was then turned down by Banerjee.
“SC East Bengal would like to clarify that at no point was any official or authorised request made by it in such regard and therefore there is no question of an official review having been resorted to by SC East Bengal,” the club said in a statement.
“SC East Bengal is in receipt of the AIFF Disciplinary Committee’s order and is assessing its options under the AIFF’s Disciplinary Code,” it added.
On Thursday, AIFF Disciplinary Committee sanctioned Fowler for breaching Article 50 (misconduct against match officials) of the AIFF Disciplinary Code. He was suspended for four matches and fined Rs 5 lakh.
“This punitive action is specifically in regard to Fowler’s criticism of on-field refereeing decisions in matches of the Indian Super League 2020-21 season involving SC East Bengal,” the AIFF statement read.
East Bengal further pointed out that as the official statement of the AIFF clearly clarifies, the main charge made out against Fowler relates to the fine and/or match suspension that may be applicable to 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 AIFF order also specifically clarifies that none of Fowler’s comments were racist and therefore any media reports to the contrary should be rejected,” the club statement read.
In the 2017-18 season, Ranko Popovic, then FC Pune City head coach, was meted out the same punishment for his outburst against match officials. Even last season, Antonio Lopez Habas (then ATK FC head coach) and Eelco Schattorie (then Kerala Blasters FC head coach) were also handed similar punishments by the AIFF.