After a scoreless regulation period at the Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru FC took the lead against Kerala Blasters in the 97th minute when Sunil Chhetri converted a free-kick. However, the strike triggered a full-fledged drama.
A huge controversy erupted in the Indian Super League on Friday when Kerala Blasters forfeited their playoff match against Bengaluru FC after Sunil Chhetri scored from a free-kick in the dying minutes of the game. After a scoreless regulation period at Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru FC took the lead in the 97th minute when the talismanic Indian captain converted a free-kick. The strike, however, turned into a full-fledged drama as the Adrian Luna-led side protested referee Crystal John’s decision to declare it a legitimate goal, with counter-claims that he did not blow the whistle before Chhetri took the kick and the players were not ready.
Following an unprecedented walkout, a first in ISL history, Serbian coach Ivan Vukomanovic summoned his players. Luna was seen removing his captain’s armband while his teammates looked on.
Bengaluru FC was declared the winner due to their extra-time lead, and they will travel to Mumbai City Arena for the semi-final on Tuesday.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my 22 years of working. I always consult the referee. It was a bittersweet experience. But I’m glad we made it to the semi-finals “Chhetri explained.
“That’s right. I noticed the opening. I told the referee that I didn’t want the whistle or the wall. When they asked again, I told them I didn’t want the whistle or the wall. Luna, I believe, was blocking the first opportunity. I don’t want to say anything…because of the controversy. But when I asked the referee twice, he knew. And yes, it’s one of those days when it goes in “Chhetri stated this in a video posted on social media by ISL.
The forfeiture and walkout cost the Blasters dearly, as they may face harsh sanctions from league officials.
Such an instance was previously seen during the Kolkata Derby in I-League 2012 when Mohun Bagan walked off the field and refused to turn up in the second half after spectators hurled a stone at their winger Syed rahim nabi from the East Bengal stands.