NorthEast United head coach Avram Grant was sent off from the technical area for entering the field in the dying stages of the Indian Super League match between his side and Kerala Blasters on Saturday.
The head coach was furious with the decision to punish John Mosquera with a yellow card after the striker hit Baldvinnson on the face with his arm in added time during the match. The incident happened after Wes Brown accidentally struck the striker in his face with his outstretched arm while both players challenged for the ball at the edge of the box.
In the aftermath of the in-game fracas, the club has issued a statement protesting the actions of the match officials.
The statement is as follows:
In the closing minutes of Saturday’s (17th February 2018) match between Northeast United FC and the Kerala Blasters FC at IGAI Stadium Sarusajai, Guwahati, NEUFC head coach Mr. Avram Grant was issued an order to leave the Technical Area following an attempt by Mr Grant to separate the players and to continue with the remainder of the match. Though Northeast United FC fully supports Indian Super league its organisers and various stakeholders, the Club does not support the treatment meted out to its players and officials by the referees under All India Football Federation.
The club would like to put on record that NEUFC has been one of the biggest sufferers due to adverse decisions by the referees. Northeast United FC would like to point out to the All India Football Federation about certain points that we have noted with regards to the specific incidents that needs a thorough probing - - Referee Santosh Kumar had been assigned for back to back matches of NEUFC (10th February 2018 vs Jamshedpur FC and 14th February 2018 vs Delhi Dynamos FC) - Several video replays have confirmed and suggested that the same referee Mr. Santosh Kumar denied a valid foul/penalty on our player Marcinho (vs Delhi Dynamos FC on 14th Feb 2018), which later resulted in a long term injury of the player due a strong challenge on him by the opponent.
In the dying minutes of the match on 17th Feb 2018, our head coach Mr Avram Grant was suspended from the match despite being very respectful with the referee and attempting to help the referee by separating the players and aiding in continuing with the match. Mr Grant was sent off and manhandled by the fourth official without any clear communication on the reason for sending him off. In light of these above observations, while our head coach Mr Avram Grant serves his suspension by sitting out of the next match against Mumbai City FC, NEUFC and Mr Avram Grant would like to highlight to the All India Football Federation to conduct a thorough feedback procedure to analyze the performance of the referees and their need to improve further to help the league overall. Teams like Northeast United may be out of contention for the playoff berth but the team is playing for the pride and the region they represent and such adverse decisions from the referees have a direct impact in killing the spirit of our game.
Following the match, Goal understands that Avram Grant initially called the players away from the post-match awards ceremony. Fearing a lack of participation in the post-match ceremony, it was Kerala Blasters CEO Varun Tripuraneni who talked to the home team's officials and coach Avram Grant to try and sort things out.
NorthEast United denied the above incident and said, "This is absolutely false. The coach summoned the players for a quick instruction to avoid confronting the media about anything related to the match. The players came back from the award area, heard the instructions and went back to collect their awards. There was definitely no one trying influence Avram Grant's thought process at that point in time."
"In fact, it was quite a scene when few of NorthEast United management officials had to get involved to clear out a heated argument with Varun Tripuraneni and the ISL City Coordinator Ezaz Hazarika just near the players' drop-off area after the match."
Avram Grant also initially refused to attend the post-match press conference and ultimately had to speak to the media outside the stadium.