In what has been a peculiar series of developments over the last 24 hours, TRAU has sacked their head coach Dimitris Dimitriou, despite being on an exciting run of form in the I-League. TRAU are making their debut in the I-League this season but they rarely look like rookies. They are currently third in the table, trailing Minerva Punjab, who are second in the table only based on goal difference.
TRAU notched up consecutive wins in their last four games, even defeating serious contenders Churchill Brothers but all the positivity surrounding the club found an unexpected out-of-the-blue setback when the club announced on its Facebook page that it had parted ways with head coach Dimitris Dimitriou.
“TRAU FC SACKS DIMITRIS DIMITRIOU. REASON FOR HIS OUSTER WILL BE MADE PUBLIC AFTER THOROUGH INVESTIGATION,” read the Facebook post. And while it caught fans by surprise and enraged them in equal measure, it also created a lot of doubt and apprehension gave that it did not cite the reason why Dimitri was being dismissed.
The ‘thorough investigation’ in the post, however, did refer to some internal unrest within the club that led to such a prompt and swift action, despite their terrific form. A further comment revealed that there could be a possible case of match-fixing involved in all of this when TRAU asked its fans in the comments section whether they accepted match-fixing in sports.
There were rumours that after the game on Saturday, Dimitri had an argument with club officials. However, the hints of match-fixing labelled against him have been a complete shock to everyone.
Dimitri has rebuffed these claims. In an interview with Sportskeeda, the former Manchester City youth coach said, “This (match-fixing allegation) is rubbish. I joined them after three matches when the team was at the bottom and had zero wins. I came and got them two draws and four wins. How is this possible? This is all down to Mr Phulen’s ego. He wanted to renegotiate my contract and reduce my salary. He also wanted another clause in the contract where it would be mentioned that the starting XI and matchday squad would be selected by him. I told him to simply ‘f*** off’. I am going to take this matter to FIFA with my agent.”
This isn’t the first time TRAU management has been accused of meddling with the affairs of the head coach. Dimitris was also sacked bizarrely before the season even started and replaced with Douglas Da Silva. Da Silva also claimed that club officials tried to influence the squads he put out and also suggested that the starting XI fielded against Quess East Bengal was not according to his wishes.
All of this could potentially prove to be the major setback for TRAU who could challenge for the title in the later stretches of the given their position in the table and the form they’re in. An investigation by AIFF might follow if there are any serious claims to the match-fixing allegations. It remains to be seen what happens next. The Bridge will keep you updated.