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Kerala Blasters fined heavily by AIFF for walkout

All India Football Federation or AIFF slapped a 4 crore fine on Kerala Blasters for walking out of the pitch in the middle of their ISL playoff game against Bengaluru FC played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on March 3, 2023.

Last updated: 01.04.2023
Kerala Blasters fined heavily by AIFF for walkout

On Friday night, the All India Football Federation or AIFF slapped a 4 crore fine on Kerala Blasters for walking out of the pitch in the middle of their ISL playoff game against Bengaluru FC played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on March 3, 2023. The fine was imposed by the AIFF Disciplinary Committee chaired by Mr. Vaibhav Gaggar. The club are ‘’also directed to issue a Public Apology’’ for the unsporting conduct of abandoning a match. Failing to do so, the total fine imposed on the Defendant team will increase to 6 crores.

Additionally, head coach Ivan Vukomanovic has been penalized “with a 10-match ban/suspension from AIFF held tournaments irrespective of whichever team he is contracted with, along with a fine of Rupees Five lakh (Rs 5,00,000/-) under Article 9.1.2 (of the AIFF disciplinary code).” The Serbian was accused of abandonment and bringing the game into disrepute by instigating the team for discontinuing the encounter. He is also directed to make a Public Apology for his misconduct, failure of which will increase the fine to Rs 10 Lakh along with his initial punishment.


The Walkout


Kerala Blasters traveled to Bengaluru FC in the one-off eliminator game of the 2022/23 ISL playoffs to fight for a place in the semifinals of the competition. With the game level at 0-0 after 90 minutes, the home side’s captain Sunil Chhetri scored a controversial free-kick in extra time which referee Crystal John allowed to stand. Upon remonstrating with the officials and understanding the goal will not be chalked off, Ivan Vukomanovic took his team off the pitch straight into the dressing room. The referees and players from Bengaluru FC waited for Blasters to turn up but they stayed with their walkout decision as the clock ran out. The match was then formally abandoned, sending the Blues through to the last four.     

Blasters filed a protest to the AIFF against referee Crystal John's decision for the disputed goal in the aftermath of the match. The club declared that the official’s decision was unfair as John should have given time to set the defensive wall for it being close to the box. To them, Chhetri took a longer time to take it than the adjudged quick free-kick and also that John did not blow the whistle for the signal. However, AIFF dismissed these claims stating that Crystal John has worked in accordance with the laws of the game and awarded a legitimate goal.



The ramifications of the punishments imposed on Kerala Blasters are sure to affect them in the upcoming Super Cup competition and also the next Indian Super League season. The ban on Ivan Vukomanovic forces the club to make a decision about whether to stick with the manager or search for someone new for the role. Blasters will play three matches in the group stages of the Super Cup and two more provided that they qualify for the knockouts or reach the final. It still leaves them with five more games without their boss on the touchline which will not come until next season. The winners of the cup will also have a chance to play in the AFC Cup group stage so it is a hammer blow for them.  

The fine imposed on the club is going to play a factor in the 2023/24 ISL season. The club can have trouble with its budget for the transfer spending if the amount increases for not complying with certain aspects of the punishments even though 4 crores is a huge amount for franchise ownership in the league. Aside from other financial doldrums, they will not be able to lure players to carry forward the progress made in the past two seasons disrupting their preparations for the new one.


ISL sanctions                             

The Indian Super League or ISL have the right to impose additional sanctions if they are not satisfied with the punishments made by the AIFF. The rule states that the league will consult the Indian football governing body in the event of a breach of any regulation and may also take further action in addition to the ones made by the AIFF if the breach also adversely impacts the commercial interest or the reputation of the ISL. Hence, the league could bring in harsher punishments for the Blasters if found guilty of the rule although there has been no advancement made from them in that regard. It is likely ISL will go by the punishments imposed by AIFF on the club.

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