Kerala Blasters, a popular Indian Super League (ISL) team recently issued a public apology and expressed regret over the ‘negative circumstances’ in their playoff match against Bengaluru FC last month. With the team’s head coach, Ivan Vukomanovic at the helm, the Blasters had taken the controversial decision to abandon the match. The incident had attracted heavy criticism from fans and other football stakeholders.
In accordance with the verdict of All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) disciplinary committee, a fine of Rs 4 crore was imposed on the team and Vukomanovic was charged with a 10-match suspension and a fine of Rs 5 lakh. The disciplinary committee had also required Vukomanovic to issue a public apology for his ‘misconduct’ and later increased the fine to Rs 10 lakh if he failed to do so.
In a public statement, the team expressed their regret and admitted that the decision to leave the pitch was made in the heat of the moment. They have also assured that they will try to take necessary steps to discourage similar occurrences in the future. The team also expressed gratitude to their fans and stakeholders for their support after the controversy.
Vukomanovic, in his statement, expressed regret and called the incident “devastating to all football fans”. He highlighted the importance of correct conduct and Fairplay in football and said that he was ashamed to be part of such a moment.
Despite Vukomanovic’s statements, the AIFF disciplinary panel may decide to impose a heavier punishment, depending on the future investigation by the federation. Further, information on this issue will remain inconclusive until a verdict has been reached.
Kerala Blasters, founded in 2014, is a part of the Hero Indian Super League, the top division of football in India. The team is owned and operated by its parent company, Celebrity Management Group India, which is stake-held by cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and former Indian footballer I.M Vijayan. The team is supported by millions of fans, with an active presence across various social media platforms. Apart from its first-team squad, the team also consists of academy teams which have produced several international footballers.