ISL 2018-19: Manjappada write to league over poor refereeing during Kerala Blasters' game against FC Pune City
Manjappada has become a familiar name to the football followers of India due to their out-of-the-way support to the club Kerala Blasters. The fan club hailing from God's Own Country has taken every possible step to uplift and develop the game of football in and around the country. Travelling fans, club office and the non-stop support in form of match day attendance are all things that keep the Yellow Army different.
Manjappada is now again coming into the limelight of Indian football for a very good cause that has been demanded for some time now - Refereeing. Like many other teams in the Hero Indian Super League, Kerala Blasters too has been a victim to poor refereeing repeatedly. The recent match against Pune City is now on the headlines for the bad decisions from the ref, that even affected the match result. All this has forced the fan club to write to ISL regarding the issue, requesting for an improvement in the department.
The statement written to the league authorities has expressed the emotions, thousands of fans went through when the referee was not up to the mark when required. Not the fans alone, but everyone who wishes to see the better days of Indian football has been troubled with the occurrences at Pune on Friday.
Manjappada also mentions that the errors are not limited to their games alone and cannot be trivialized as human errors. The need for a rectification at least by the fifth season is highlighted in the message, that is fetching popularity among the fans within a very short time.
The related incidents happened in the 41st minute of the match between Pune City and Kerala Blasters at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune. A corner from Slavisa Stojanovic came into the box for Kerala Blasters, which their centre-back Nemanja Lakic-Pesic managed to get in contact with.
The ball on its way to the goal post was met by Nikola Krcmarevic, who pushed it to the goal line. However, Emiliano Alfaro put his body on line to keep the ball out of goal and goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh was behind him inside the goal line. In a rough tussle, the ball passed the goal line when the two Pune City players managed to clear the ball, only from the line. But, it was clear that Alfaro used his hands in the effort to keep the ball out.
The Kerala Blasters players started celebrating, seeing the ball inside the line. However, it was soon disallowed by the linesman. After the Blasters' players rushed to the linesman and he made a consultation with the referee, the goal was allowed and players returned to the centre line. But some protest from the Pune City players made the referee change his decision and disallow the goal, without any further discussion with the linesman or other error found.
A very rare scene of ref changing a decision due to questioning from the players was seen on the pitch. Not even a proper reason for the disallow could be declared. Even if the goal was disallowed, the question remains on why a penalty against Alfaro's handball was not awarded to the visitors. A very clear chance for Kerala Blasters to equalize in the first half was lost.
Poor refereeing is not a new thing for Kerala Blasters as they have faced the same problems in previous matches. When Delhi Dynamos was playing Blasters at Kochi, the hosts had to concede a goal late in the second half to level terms.
But when everyone thought the action was over, CK Vineeth made a solo run through the left wing and moved into the box. Pritam Kotal, who couldn't match up with pace, found an attempted tackle from behind, the only way to stop the Kerala striker. The move from Kotal went nowhere near the ball and Vineeth was taken down in the box. A clear penalty in the add-on time was denied by the referee, which is sure to have changed the results for Kerala Blasters.
The match between ATK and Chennaiyin FC saw a similar blunder from the men controlling. A referee, the most respected man on field was manhandled by Pronay Halder, which would have been sent off in any other league other than ISL. Andrea Orlandi of Chennaiyin FC fouled by Subhasish Bose of Mumbai City is another 'ISL referee moment' that was talked about.
It is too late for a league like ISL, attracting viewership from various parts of the league to continue with below par level of refereeing. Measures like the request from Manjappada are necessary to open the eyes of the officials. The fan club is setting an example, which we can hope will be taken seriously by the league authorities.