|By Bhas Kunju
Following his ejection in the first leg of the Suzuki Cup semi-final second leg Thailand coach Winfriend Schafer was hit with an automatic one-match touchline ban for the return leg in Bangkok.
The white-haired German was seen pacing up and down the stands near the VIP area as his side was led for the night by his assistant Alexandre Polking.
But just after Teerasil Dangda broke the deadlock in the second half, television cameras picked up on a curious sight.
Polking, having left the technical area and walked up to the stands, was seen clearly taking instructions from Schafer.
Fifa rules on officials serving touchline bans have been sketchy, and Arsene Wenger most recently paid a hefty price for interpreting the rules his way in a 2011 Champions League match against Udinese.
The Arsenal manager was sending out instructions to his assistant using a mobile phone while serving his ban, and according to Uefa this was a violation of their suspension rules. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body suspended Wenger for a further two matches following his indiscretion which evidently went against the decision of the Control and Disciplinary Body.
Mobile devices such as cellphones and walkie-talkies are strictly prohibited from the technical area, hence the hefty punishment for Wenger.
The tournament rules for the AFF Championship are not clear on the matter while Article 18 of Fifa's Disciplinary Code states: An official who has been sent off may give instructions to the person replacing him on the substitutes’ bench. He shall, however, ensure that he does not disturb the spectators or disrupt the flow of play.
However, that leaves the clear question as to why Polking was allowed to leave the technical area during play, when it was against the rules to do so?
According to Fifa rules, players and officials within the technical area are not allowed to stand and must be seated at all times. Team officials can go up to the edge of the technical line to give instructions, but can only do so one at a time.
Players and officials are allowed to leave the technical area to head to the dressing room or to use the restroom.
The final decision lies in the hands of the fourth official and in Thursday's match, that man was Kim Daeyong of South Korea.
So why was Polking allowed to leave the technical area during play to receive instructions from a coach who was suspended? Why did the fourth official make the extenuating exemption in such a crucial match? Does this not go against the spirit of the game?
The match eventually ended 2-0 in favour of the home side, knocking out the defending champions. An inexplicable red card to Malaysia's Fadhli Shas late in the first-half, changed the course of the game, according to Tigers' coach Rajagobal.'