Over the years, several bans and suspensions have been handed out in Indian football for misbehaviour on and off the field. This includes players, club staff, owners, management et al. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest incidents of bans in Indian football.
2011: Nishant Mehra banned for doping
Nishant Mehra was one of the first Indian footballers to be banned for doping after a National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) panel found him guilty of using a prohibited drug. Mehra had tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a banned drug and active chemical in cannabis, in a test conducted after an I-League match in January in Pune. He was among the seven players to be tested in the Maharashtrian city. Nishant's 'A' sample was tested positive on February 4, 2011, which resulted into All India Football Federation (AIFF) imposing the provisional suspension on him.
On conducting a second test on February 11, in front of him, Mehra was found positive in his 'B' sample, which led to the NADA Disciplinary Panel suspending the then Mumbai FC player for a longer period. In his defence, Mehra explained that he was suffering from food poisoning and also added that the consumption was accidental as his food or drink could have been possibly spiked but the board wasn't convinced.
2012: Mohun Bagan banned for breaching I-League regulations; ban revoked later
AIFF’s I-League Core Committee had found Mohun Bagan guilty of breaching Regulation 22 of the I-League Regulation 2012-13 when they failed to turn up in the second half of the Kolkata derby against East Bengal on December 9, 2012. As a result, they were ‘’withdrawn’’ from the 2012-13 season in addition to being banned for the next two years.
In the Kolkata derby that season, Mohun Bagan’s Syed Rahim Nabi had got injured after a missile was thrown from the gallery in protest of the referee's decision to give marching orders to Odafa Okolie.
The ban was however overturned a month later as Mohun Bagan paid a hefty fine of INR 2 crore, and would lose all their points gathered in the league. The Mariners finished with 29 points that season and were placed tenth on the league standings.
2014: Ashley Westwood banned for four games for dissent
Ashley Westwood, in charge of Bengaluru FC then, was banned for four games after showing continuous signs of dissent in the I-League match against Mohun Bagan on 6th April 2014. The Disciplinary Committee of the AIFF also imposed a fine of Rs.50000 on the English manager.
The fine was imposed after the manager broke a glass pane at the Salt Lake stadium.
2014: Churchill Brothers, United SC, Mohammedan Sporting and Rangdajied United banned for failure of fulfilling AFC license criteria
The four clubs were axed from I-League in 2014 for failing to fulfil the AFC license criteria, for a minimum of one year. The decision was taken by AIFF’s Club Licensing Committee's First Instance Body. The AIFF licensing system is divided into five major categories — sporting, infrastructure, personnel and administration, legal and financial. These categories are further graded A, B and C. It was believed that the four clubs had failed in Grade A, which include the compulsory requirements, and performed poorly in the financial criteria too.
Mohammedan failed to meet the criteria and also were relegated, having finished last.
However, in 2016, Churchill Brothers made a return to the top tier of Indian football after the governing body decided to reinstate the club.
2014: ATK manager Antonio Habas banned for four games
Antonio Lopez Habas, then head coach of ATK, was involved in a spat when his side faced FC Goa on 23rd October, 2014, and was subsequently banned for four games alongwith striker Fikru and FC Goa midfielder Robert Pires who were suspended for two matches each.
However, Habas' ban was later reduced to just two games.
2015: Khalid Jamil and Pradyum Reddy banned for four matches
Then Mumbai FC manager Khalid Jamil and Bengaluru FC assistant coach Pradhyum Reddy were banned for four games following the controversial tie between Bengaluru FC and Mumbai FC at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru in 2015.
Both Jamil and Reddy were booked under Article 58 under Section 3 of the AIFF Disciplinary Code which deals with 'Offensive and Racist behaviour'. While Reddy was booked for using abusive language, Jamil was held guilty for offensive behaviour during the match.
Ashley Westwood, the Bengaluru FC manager, was fined Rs. 2 Lakh for entering into the pitch of play to protest the referee's decision as well as misconduct on the field. Amoes Do, a former Bengaluru FC player himself, who entered the most crowded section of the Bengaluru FC fans and got into a scuffle, was fined Rs. 50,000 and let off with a warning.
2015: Dane Pereira banned for doping
The 32-year-old was subjected to a random dope test by NADA which was conducted on February 23, 2015, after Mumbai FC’s game against Royal Wahingdoh at the Cooperage stadium. The result, which was made public on April 16th, highlighted that Pereira had traces of nandrolone, an anabolic steroid in his blood and as a consequence, was banned from professional football until the verdict came out. Nandrolone is the most common steroid prescribed by doctors.
2016: FC Goa fined Rs. 11 Crore and owners banned
ISL outfit FC Goa was imposed with a fine of Rs.11 crore.by the ISL Regulatory Commission following the unsavory events that took place immediately after FC Goa lost 3-2 to Chennaiyin FC in the final of the second season on December 20, at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa. FC Goa owners Srinivas Dempo and Dattaraj Salgaocar were banned for two and three ISL seasons respectively.
Additionally, the Goa-based franchise was hit with a penalty, which meant the franchise will begin the third season of the competition with a 15 point deficit.
However, the Appeals Committee of the ISL reduced the fine to Rs. 6 Lakh and did away with the docking of points and the ban handed out to the owners.
2016: Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen banned for eight games
The AIFF banned Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen for eight games in 2016 and fined Rs. 10 Lakh after being charged for making derogatory statements against AIFF.
Sen had criticised the AIFF after Mohun Bagan beat Tampines Rovers 3-1 on January 27 to become the first Indian team to win a match in the new qualifying format of the Asian Champions League.
Sen's ban was later reduced to four games and the fine was halved as well.
2016: Mohun Bagan banned from participating in U-18 League for age fraud
Mohun Bagan academy was found guilty of fielding an overage player in the 2016-17 season of U-18 League. Subhankar Adhikary’s age was listed as 18 but Sports Authority of India Eastern Zone had pointed out that the youngster was a year older than the mentioned age.
On receiving the complaint from SAI, the I-League Committee asked Adhikary to show up for medical tests in New Delhi but the West Bengal defender chose not to show up. Following this, the Supreme Committee and Disciplinary Committee showcaused Mohun Bagan but the club failed to reply. Eventually, Mohun Bagan were suspended for the season and replaced by United SC in the final round.
2017: Ranko Popovic and John Gregory banned by ISL
FC Pune City manager Ranko Popovic was banned for four games and fined Rs. 10 Lakh by the Indian Super League (ISL) for the remarks against the match officials after his team's 2-0 win over FC Goa on 23rd December 2017.
Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory was also suspended for three matches and fined Rs 4 Lakhs by the ISL for his offensive remarks to the referee during Chennaiyin FC’s match vs Jamshedpur FC at JRD Tata Sports Complex on 28th December 2017.
2018: Bengaluru (U-13), Ozone (U-15), Jammu United (U-15) banned in respective tournaments for age fudging
Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Bengaluru FC was found guilty of fielding an over-aged player in the U-13 Youth League; Ozone FC and Jammu United had committed the offence in the U15 Youth League. AIFF found that one player from the Bengaluru FC U-13 team and one from Ozone FC’s U-15 were over-aged. Jammu United U-15 side had two players who did not satisfy the eligibility criteria.
Ankith P (Bengaluru FC U-13 team), Akash Chander Jadhav (Ozone FC U-15 team) and Rohit Yadav and Shreyan Dev Singh (Jammu United U-15 team) were the players suspended. Indian FA's Disciplinary Committee had decided to ban the players in question from participating in any AIFF-conducted tournament for 12 months while the clubs were disqualified from the respective tournaments.
2018: Ranjit Bajaj banned for racist comments
Ranjit Bajaj, the owner of I-League champions Minerva Punjab, became the recent addition to this list, owing to an alleged racial comment aimed at referee Pynskhemhame Mawthoh. AIFF slapped a one-year ban and a fine of INR 10 Lakh after a complaint was filed. The incident took place during the U-18 Youth League playoff match between Minerva Punjab and Aizawl FC in Shillong.
AIFF Disciplinary Committee held Bajaj guilty of ‘committing serious gross acts of infringements’ and banned him for 12 months. The suspension means that Bajaj can't enter the stadium or take part in football-related activities for tournaments conducted by the AIFF.
Minerva Punjab defended the owner stating this was ‘a coordinated effort to paint him out as an unruly person just to cover up their (AIFF’s) own failure in upholding standards of the game.’ Bajaj had questioned the match commissioner over the lack of security and mismanagement at the league venues after an incident of theft.