In a major relief to Real Kashmir FC,the All India Football Federation has revoked a four-match suspension on its centre-back Mason Robertson which will allow him to lead the side in the I-League playoff clash against TRAU FC at Kalyani Stadium on Wednesday. Setting aside the AIFF Disciplinary Committee's decision of four-match ban and Rs 2 lakh fine for abusing the referee in an earlier match, the Appeals Committee made the decision just ahead of the team's second play-off fixture.
In its decision, the AIFF Appeals Committee stated that the four-match suspension imposed upon the player "lacks justification and thereby stands annulled". "The Committee further holds that the player's action was a first time infraction and in no way can be said be severe enough to attract the provisions of Article 50.2(a) of the AIFF Disciplinary Code," it stated. Mason, along with his father David Robertson (the head coach of the club), were on Saturday suspended for four matches and fined Rs 2 lakh each for abusing the referee in "filthy vulgar language" during their I-League game against Indian Arrows on February 4.
The four-match ban would have forced the RKFC striker-cum-defender to sit out their remaining four play-off games with the team yet to open its account from one match in the championship race of six teams. Mason, in an appeal on Tuesday, had said the comment was "misconceived, contrary to law and cannot be sustained" and hence should be "revoked immediately". The Appeals Committee also observed that the statement made by Mason "has to be judged on its own terms and the same does not, taken by itself, amount to unsporting conduct within in the meaning of Article 50." It further stated that the alleged offence by the father-son duo cannot be clubbed together and should be judged separately. "It is pertinent to note that the there was a gap in time between the alleged statements of the Appellant and the coach.
Therefore, it may not be possible to ascribe them as a singular whole or as a concerted attempt to intimidate or offend the referee," it added. In the rejigged I-League format, the Snow Leopards, who are the first club from Kashmir to compete in any first division football league in the country, had finished third behind Churchill Brothers and Punjab FC in the first phase to advance to second phase. In the playoffs, they lost opening match to Churchill Brothers 1-2 on March 5.