Things went out of hand rapidly in the Indian Super League (ISL) camp when Mumbai City FC and their new owners City Football Group got charged with a non-cognisable offence (NC) against a few players and support staff belonging to the U-18 team. The motley group from the team has been accused of assaulting an assistant referee after their MFDA Elite Division match concluded on Wednesday.
Playing at the Neville D'Souza ground in Bandra, the Mumbai FC U-18 team put up a weak performance and was shrugged off by the determined Karnataka Sporting Association (KSA) youths who got away with the match by only scoring one goal. Flabbergasted at the loss at home, the team physio of the Mumbai FC allegedly bellowed out against the assistant referee, Umesh Patel for passing unfair decisions right after the final whistle.
Thoroughly shocked with the violent treatment meted out to him, Patel elaborated on the assault in an interview with TOI, “The physio was starting to get abusive so I went to the referee. Some of the Mumbai City coaches and players were arguing with the referee about some decisions. As the argument started to heat up, somebody from the Mumbai support staff spat on me. In self-defence, I threw my flag on the person. That’s when the coaches, support staff, players and even spectators started hitting me,” Patel explained.
The police immediately came into the scene to bring the situation under control and took statements of those present. Patel, duly lodged a complaint with the Bandra police so that he does not get assaulted in the future by the hot-headed U-18 team. After this shameful turn of events, the Mumbai City coaches refused to speak to the media initially before releasing an official statement.
In their defence, the U-18 team members insisted in an interview with the TOI, "We just argued with the referee. Nobody raised their hands on him,” they said. Later, the club issued a statement saying, “The matter is being looked into by the club and appropriate action will be taken after thorough investigation.” MDFA committee member and KSA manager Salvador D’Souza, who was present at the venue, backed Patel’s account of the incident.
“We saw the players assault the referee but I couldn’t interfere as I was part of the opposition team. It’s sad that such a professional club behaves in such a poor manner,” D’Souza told TOI in an interview. While this is a very shameful incident to have befallen the Indian football scene, the MFDA officials have promised to review the incident and hear both sides of the story and deliberate on what action to take.