In an outpour of emotions following FC Goa’s draw against Atletico de Kolkata in the ISL, Goan coach and Brazilian legend Zico claimed that the ISL has given stepmotherly treatment to Brazilian and FC Goa for the last three years.
Speaking during the press conference following the game, Zico lambasted the man in the middle for “not allowing the players to play football.” Furthering the outrage, the 63-year-old claimed that he was here to help the game grow in Indian and not for anything else and if this kind of treatment continued, he would contemplate packing his bags.
“This is not the first time that it has happened to us. We have been at the sharp end of the stick whenever a contentious decision is made on the field. It was the same in the finals last season and it has happened again. I am here to help India and Indian football. I have nothing to prove in India. I am here for the love of the game. But this kind of treatment can’t go on. If they don’t want me, they can just say it. I will pack my bag and leave.
“Even last season in the final Stiven Mendosa scored a goal that I can only explain as a ‘hand of God’ goal, and since then the team has fallen apart. What happened later and the fines imposed left us in no situation to plan for this season,” said Zico pulling no punches.
Letting his heart out for the first time in front of the media, Zico also fires shots at the ISL for bringing in “incompetent” foreign referees to officiate the games.
“If this is the standard of referees the ISL brings from the foreign countries, then they should really reconsider as the Indian referees seem to be doing a much better job than them. They should look to bring in FIFA referee and not bring in foreigners who are jet lagged. And if this referee is part of the FIFA panel, I am afraid to say that FIFA is not doing a good job.”
While FC Goa did earn their first points of the season, the game was marred by a flurry of cards, with two of them being red. The whistle-happy Mexican referee Fernando Guerrero Ramirez came under the spotlight for the second time in a week as the man in charge of the game produced 8 yellows and 2 reds.
The Mexican who was also in charge of the game between Pune and NorthEast United earlier this week, saw the game ending in similar fashion with both sides seeing a red each to the dismay of many. This game too played out in the vein as the flurry of cards beginning in the second minute and ending in the 92nd.
In the most bizarre sequence of events three Goa players viz, Raju Gaekwad, Sanjay Balmuchu and stand-in skipper Gregory Arnolin saw yellow within a space of a minute. An action which Zico later describes as an act aimed “to finish my team.”
However, the Brazilian was happy with the performance of his players. And felt that his players “gave it all” and “played against all odds” to earn their first points.
After, losing their first three games of the season, a point wold be a welcome sight especially coming against away to undefeated Kolkata as well as in the absence of their skipper Lucio, who missed the game owing to a leg injury.