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AIFF rejects KBFC protest against Chhetri’s free kick

AIFF has rejected the Kerala Blasters’ protest against Sunil Chhetri’s goal for Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) tie, and the AIFF Disciplinary Committee, headed by Chairman Vaibhav Gaggar, issued a statement today on the website from AIFF. The Blasters were seeking two relief points based on the disputed goal: a match replay and action taken against the referee, Crystal John. In their protest, the Blasters pointed to the series of events, before outlining their plot:

“For the Club, the aforementioned sequence of events represents that there is a clear contradiction in Mr. John’s actions. As is evident in the video below, Mr. John orders Mr. Luna to move further away from the ball and Mr. Chhetri If the referee is allowing a quick free kick, why is he at the same time ordering the defending player to move away and thus preventing the defending player from blocking that quick free kick on the ball, it is a clear indication for the defending team that is allowed to put up a wall”.

The AIFF rejected this appeal based on the report by the Director of Umpires, Trevor Kettle, as well as the IFAB Laws of the Game and the League Code and Rules, saying:

“After considering the Protest and reviewing the Laws of the Game, as well as the reports of the referees, the Committee said that it is of the opinion that the “Protest cannot be upheld in law, as the joint comprehensive and holistic reading of the The Rules of The League and the Code clearly state that no protest may be made against the decisions of a Referee, as such decisions are final and binding.”

“The facts of this case show that the incident does not even fall within the exception provided for in article 70.5 of the Code. Therefore, this letter of protest/report/petition is dismissed”.

The CRO report also indicated that there was no confusion, noting that Adrián Luna had attempted to block the free kick twice, the vanishing aerosol was used to indicate the position of the ball alone (and does not imply the need for the whistle) and even asked Luna to retire did not imply that the free kick was going to be taken with the whistle:

“After the initial free kick was awarded, a KBFC player kicked the ball away from the immediate vicinity of the incident and the match official used the vanishing spray to only indicate the position of the free kick. At no time did he imply that the free kick would be taken at the whistle, and he even took a position to the left of and slightly behind the free kick position to allow the shot to be taken – there was no formality to get out of 10 yards to the defensive wall .

In fact, during the scenario, the referee of the game asked the attacking free throw shooter if he wanted 10 yards, who confirmed that he did not on 2 occasions. In addition, the match referee also encouraged the encroaching defending player near the ball to retreat; this communication is also evidenced by all other match officials who heard the spoken communications between the match referee and the players involved.

If the match official had indicated that the free kick was to be taken at the whistle, it would have been quite reasonable to expect that the encroaching KBFC player would have withdrawn, but he did not; In fact, he attempted to stop the free kick on 2 occasions, therefore there seemed to be no confusion on his behalf being closest to the incident that the free kick would be allowed to be taken.”

You can access the full statement here.