ISL: All we know about Sunil Chhetri's freekick controversy
Bengaluru FC progressed to the semi-finals of the Indian Super League (ISL) following a 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters. Sunil Chhetri scored a controversial freekick that handed BFC the lead and also resulted in Kerala Blasters leaving the field in protest during extra-time. The Blasters forfeited the match after they had a disagreement with the referee regarding the freekick that Chhetri scored.
Why does this story matter?
- The tempers are always high when BFC face KBFC, and the playoffs game was no different.
- The chaos started in extra-time with Chhetri's freekick goal. The Blasters felt that the referee did not allow them enough time to set the wall and in protest, they decided to walk.
- This gesture from Kerala will have major implications as it puts ISL in bad light globally.
What exactly happened?
It was in the seventh minute of extra-time when BFC got a freekick and Chhetri was quick enough to catch the KBFC defense and goalkeeper off-guard, as he slammed the ball home. The disappointed KBFC players kept protesting as they complained of not hearing the whistle. As their protests fell on deaf ears, Vukomanovic urged his players to walk-off.
What did Sunil Chhetri say about the free kick?
"Referee (Crystal John) told us that he did not need a whistle to be blown or a player wall. I asked him if he was sure and he said "Yes". I guess (Adrian) Luna heard it and that's why he tried blocking once," Chhetri revealed. "This is not the right way to do it," Chhetri feels KBFC walking off was not the right choice.
What does the rule say?
The IFAB Law 13.3 states, "While taking a freekick if opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance, the kick is retaken; but if a player takes a freekick quickly and opponent who is less than 10yds from the ball intercepts it, referee allows play to continue. If opponent deliberately prevents a freekick being taken quickly must be cautioned for delaying play."
What consequences could the Blasters face?
The forfeiture and the walk-out happened for the first time in ISL, and it will have major ramifications for the Blasters. Such an event happened in I-League during the Kolkata Derby in 2012 when Mohun Bagan players did not come back to the field as their player Nabi was injured from a stone hurled at him by spectators. MB had to face massive sanctions.
Bengaluru FC will now face Mumbai City
Bengaluru FC have progressed to the ISL semi-finals, and now they will take on Des Buckingham's Mumbai City in a two-legged clash. BFC were only one of the two teams to beat the Islanders in the league phase. However, the first clash of the season ended with a 4-0 MCFC win. Head-to-head stats: Matches: 12 Bengaluru: 5 wins, Mumbai: 6 wins, 1 draw.