Dempo coach Armando Colaco livid with Climax suspension

The 59-year old coach replied to the Indian FA through a strongly worded letter to seek an explanation as to why their star midfielder has been banned..
The match between East Bengal and Dempo SC at the Salt Lake Stadium on November 3, 2012 ended in a 1-1 draw. But it is the off-field activities that followed that game that have been hitting the headlines since then. It started by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) issuing a showcause notice to Dempo coach Armando Colaco for allegedly entering the field of play during the course of the game.

Armando then responded to the same via a letter stating his innocence. The AIFF has then moved on to slap a ban on Dempo midfielder Climax Lawrence for alleged misconduct against referee Ajit Meetei in the game against East Bengal. The incident is deemed to have occurred after Dempo were denied a penalty in a match that played host to some questionable refereeing.

Now, Colaco has written another letter to the AIFF seeking an explanation as to why the player has been singled out for a ban. Colaco demanded from the federation the 'evidence in hand' which they used to decide that the player had to be banned.

"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 Climax,” Armando stated in his letter.

Climax Lawrence has been banned for two games by the AIFF

The Dempo coach stated that if the evidence used was the match video footage then it was the wrong approach to proceed to take action against the player. The coach then went on to say that it was the job of the AIFF Disciplinary Committee to convene and decide upon appropriate punishments meted out to players and that no such meeting was held.

"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 Climax 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?", Colaco stated in his letter.

Armando added, “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."

Colaco then went to on to ask why two of East Bengal's players namely Penn Orji and Uga Okpara did not receive similar punishment when they were allegedly guilty of misconduct towards the referee in their attempts to get a Dempo player sent off. The 59-year old then cited numerous examples of players misbehaving with the match officials in matches that have taken place so far in this year's I-League.

The former Dempo player pointed out incidents of misbehaviour against the referees in the matches between Pune FC and Churchill Brothers where the Goan side were awarded a match-winning penalty that proved to be decisive after which the referee was cordoned off for his safety. Colaco highlighted Churchill Brothers duo Beto and Steven Dias' attempts to protest against a penalty given to Dempo in their I-League season opener could not be considered cordial.

Colaco finally questioned the decision to not punish United Sikkim FC player and coach Bhaichung Bhutia who allegedly behaved in a threatening and abusive manner towards the referee in the match against Dempo SC where a ball was thrown at the referee.

Colaco felt that his team was being singled out when it came to punishments. The coach also expressed his disappointment on why the club and player were informed of this decision two weeks after the match has taken place.

Colaco felt that Climax was being targeted deliberately

"Aside from and irrespective of the erroneous and unauthorised decision taken to suspend our player we would hope to know the cause of the inordinate delay in proceeding in the matter, involving no fewer than 16 clear days after the event. You would appreciate that for a matter such as this any delay in such matters prompts the speculation about interests other than official or sports-worthy governing the decision,” said Colaco.

"Would you explain, aside from and irrespective of the erroneous and unauthorised decision taken to suspend our player, why he was not given the right, as courtesy, correctness and fairness demand, to be heard, to be given the chance to clarify? If the disciplinary action comes not on the field at the very instant of the so-called offence but follows over two weeks later, Climax and my team officials and I could have been instructed to provide clarifications, an approach which has not been adopted, much to our regret," added Armando. 

The former India coach pointed out that Climax Lawrence had led both Dempo and India with dignity and has been a model sportsman. The Goan then went on to say that the Indian FA should be striving to improve the standards of refereeing especially in crucial games for clubs and not focus on disciplining players who may have reacted in the spur of the moment.

"In any case, surely the punishment, if any, ought to be proportionate to the offence in a case involving player infringement of discipline, quite side from and irrespective of the erroneous and unauthorised decision taken to suspend our player? With the background of the case as above, is it not unfairly harsh, if not downright outrageous, to seek to impose a two-match suspension on a player for a rare, fleeting display of passion, when seen against a code (Section 9 Clause 50 Sub-clause (a) of the Disciplinary Laws and Procedures of the AIFF, together with Clause 51) which imposes merely a single-match suspension even for offences attracting four yellow card cautions in the course of a stage of a competition?”, reasoned Armando explaining that ‘spur-of-the-moment reactions should not be taken to logical conclusions.

The letter reminded the AIFF that Dempo SC reserves the right, in the absence of a fair, reasoned response from AIFF, to resort to action under Section 9 Clause 54 Sub-clauses (a), (b) and (c) of the Disciplinary Laws and Procedures of the AIFF, together with Clause 51) relating to arbitration, by turning your erroneous and unauthorised decision taken to suspend our player into a dispute requiring arbitration as provided for in the regulations.

Climax's ban, if upheld, will see him miss Dempo's next two games against Air India and Mohun Bagan. Colaco rounded off the letter by clarifying that the issue of the yellow card given to Japanese striker Ryuji Sueoka has been accepted and the matter was closed.

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