It seems like nothing is going according to plan for SC East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler in his debut Indian Super League (ISL) stint. After ruffling feathers with comments about his own players’ tactical understanding and quality previously, the Liverpool legend now finds himself embroiled in yet another controversy. After allegedly saying that the refereeing in his side’s match against FC Goa was either “anti-English or anti-East Bengal”, the Englishman is faced with a five match touchline ban as well as a Rs 6 lakh fine.
The alleged racist remark was made in a post-match interaction in which a visibly upset Fowler blamed the referees of being biased against his side after SC East Bengal came from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw against the Gaurs. The footage of the same has since been removed from all platforms. “The match commissioner has taken a strong note of the incident and reported the matter to the disciplinary committee which will take a decision on Wednesday after hearing Fowler’s version on Wednesday,” an ISL official told PTI in light of the recent events.
The charge being brought against Fowler falls under Article 59.1 (a) of the AIFF disciplinary code which states that “Anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, colour, language, religion or origin shall be suspended for at least five matches. Furthermore, a stadium ban and a fine of at least Rs 3,00,000 shall be imposed. If the perpetrator is an official, the fine shall be at least Rs 6,00,000.”
This isn’t the first time that Fowler has taken a jibe at the standard of officiating in the ISL. He has time and again expressed his displeasure with the referees, stating that it was as if his team were facing 12 opponents on the pitch as well as how the refereeing has been “disgraceful” and “an absolute joke”. The SC East Bengal management had also submitted a written complaint to the AIFF regarding the refereeing standard earlier in the season.