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Former players and referees says Kerala Blasters were wrong to walk out

A string of former players like IM Vijayan and referees have termed the controversial goal against Kerala Blasters as legal.

Kerala Blasters Walk Off

Kerala Blasters walked off the pitch in their ISL clash against Bengaluru FC (Source: ISL)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 7 March 2023 10:33 AM GMT

The controversial goal and Kerala Blasters walking out of the ISL eliminator against Bengaluru FC has rocked Indian football with the outfit from Kerala set to be fined by AIFF.

The ISL outfit had walked off the pitch during their knockout game against Bengaluru after Sunil Chhetri had scored a controversial goal, which was allowed by referee Crystal John.

While the fans on social media are divided about the legitimacy of the goal, a few former players and Indian referees have disagreed with the stance of Kerala Blasters terming it as a legal goal.

Former Indian captain and legend, IM Vijayan criticized Kerala Blaster's decision of leaving the field and said, "As a player, Sunil Chhetri did it right. Chhetri is a great player. Sunil Chhetri can never be blamed for taking that free kick. His experience brought him out. His goal-scoring experience of so many years was shown there. If I am playing there, if I get a gap, I will also score like that."

A coach with such vast experience should never ask him to return from the ground because they had 24 minutes. If they had played, there could have been a last-minute goal. It was a mistake," IM Vijayan told The Reporter Live.

Sunil Chhetri has been hugely criticized by a section of fans on Social Media for not showing sportsmanship. Apart from IM Vijayan, former Indian captain Jo Paul Ancheri also weighed in his opinion.

He said, "A legal goal was allowed as it was the referee's decision. Even if Chhetri scores a goal, the referee can give a restart if he wants. Any team which has an advantage will use its intelligence. Kerala Blasters should have played according to the rules."

The ongoing season of ISL has seen some contentious decisions with coaches constantly talking about it in their post-match conferences. In the eliminator between Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters, referee Crystal John was surrounded by Kerala Blasters players after that goal.

Talking about the goal, Ex-FIFA referee M Santosh Kumar told Madhyamam," I have officiated matches where Sunil has played and he's always like this, if he wants to take it quickly he approaches me and I prepare. If a quick start is requested it has no time limit nor does it require a wall."

This is not the first time ISL has witnessed such incidents. In the last season, Kerala Blasters were on the other side of the controversy against Mumbai City FC when referee Panchal Banerjee allowed a quick restart and Kerala Blasters scored from it.

With AIFF disciplinary committee rejecting the request from Kerala Blasters for a rematch, an official statement is expected from the apex body today in this matter.

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