“Sanctions on Climax are unfair” says Armando

After show causing the head coach of Dempo SC a week back, the AIFF has again got on

File photo: Climax in action

the wrong side of India’s champion club by suspending their talismanic midfielder for two matches on account of “offensive” behavior in the match against  East Bengal on the 3rd of November.

 

Dempo Sports Club in their letter to the CEO of the I-League Mr. Sunando Dhar, sought to question the basis of arriving at such a decision.

 

“May we request that the evidence which you say you have in hand be shared with us as would be reasonable to expect and fair to provide? We trust that the evidence you base your decision upon is the Referee’s official match report which we hold is the right and proper basis to adopt. It is intriguing that you refer to ‘evidence in hand’ instead of straight away quoting the referee’s report, which naturally leads us to believe there is nothing incriminating in the report against Mr. Lawrence”, the letter said, wondering why AIFF has of late resorted to video evidence rather than the referee’s report to arrive at such decisions.”

 

“May we ask, alternatively, if the evidence you refer to is match video footage, in which case the point we wish to make is that it is the wrong basis on which to proceed against a player, both under regulations and in terms of precedents? Speaking of regulations and precedents, we feel entitled, with due respect, to enquire on what authority you took the decision to suspend Mr. Lawrence and on what grounds. In the absence of any dedicated disciplinary body/ committee in the I- League structure and framework, we point out respectfully but firmly that it can only be the AIFF Disciplinary Committee, the nodal forum, to decide on player discipline matters in the I-League {see Section 9 Clause 49 Sub-clause (c) of the Disciplinary Laws and Procedures of the AIFF}”, said the letter signed by Club Secretary cum Coach Armando Colaco.

 

The letter further alleged that a meeting of the AIFF Disciplinary Committee actually never happened leading many to believe that the I-League Committee took the decision to suspend Climax Lawrence which is outside their purview.

 

“Further, we point out, again with due respect, that the AIFF Disciplinary Committee ought to follow the due process of law under the AIFF regulations to decide on Mr Lawrence. Could we ask whether such process was followed, whether the Committee met, whether it discussed the issue in question, whether it took any decision, and whether it quoted the grounds on which it arrived at such decision, and if so, may the relevant matters be shared with us officially so as to enable us to clarify, rebut and appeal and otherwise proceed properly in the matter? To the best of our knowledge, no meeting of the AIFF Disciplinary Committee was held, leading us inescapably to the conclusion that any suspension or disciplinary order/ decision taken by any other authority is null, void, baseless and groundless ab initio.”, alleged the Secretary.

 

Armando in his capacity as Secretary also castigated the AIFF for double standards and for selectively targeting his players. He mentioned three instances of matches in the I-League this season where players literally hounded the referee but were let off with a mere warning. “Turning to the occasion on which the alleged offence took place, we feel entitled to ask why two players of the Kingfisher East Bengal side, viz. Uga Okapara and Penn Orji,  were not similarly disciplined at the match in question for the same so-called offence based on the same so-called evidence, specifically at match-end, when the referee was aggressively confronted over why a red card was not shown to our player, the very same Climax Lawrence whom you are pleased to discipline without so much as a corresponding censure or caution to other similar offenders on the very same occasion! We are asking this aside from and irrespective of the erroneous and unauthorized decision taken to suspend our player. Turning to other matches in the I- League so far, we are querying, quite aside from and irrespective of the erroneous and unauthorized decision taken to suspend our player, how a number of glaring occasions of aggressive player behavior with match officials at such fixtures were overlooked, far from being proceeded against.”

 

“We are referring to Match No. 27 played between Pune FC and Churchill Bros at match-end when disgruntled players of the former team pugnaciously accosted the match referee (over a penalty awarded to the latter which proved crucial to the match result) following which the referee had to be cordoned off for his safety, a fact on clear display in the match video footage. We are also referring to the  I- League Kick-off match (Match No.3) between our team and Churchill Bros when a similar refereeing decision against our opponents led some of them, Roberto Silva (Beto) and Steven Dias, among others, to confront the referee menacingly, a fact on clear display in the match video footage. A third instance we are quoting is the abusive and threatening behavior of United Sikkim FC Player and Coach Bhaichung Bhutia at Match No. 17 against our team, marked by verbal violence and physical aggression in the form of the ball being flung at the referee, behavior which attracted a mere show cause notice but no suspension.” said Armando.

 

The letter also questioned the AIFF’s rationale of suspending Climax 16 days after the alleged offense took place leading many to believe that there was a conspiracy to keeps the former India captain out for the game against Mohun Bagan on the 28th of November.

 

When contacted, Climax Lawrence was disappointed with the treatment meted out to him by the AIFF. “In my entire playing career I have never been sent off. I have played for the National Team and captained the side with honor and dignity. I cannot understand why the AIFF is doing this? I feel I have been selectively targeted because players with far worse offenses have been let off before with a mere caution.”