ISL 2020-21: SC East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler to face ban and fine for alleged racist remark on referees

ISL 2020-21: The ISL is making headlines for the wrong reasons as East Bengal’s star English coach Robbie Fowler faces a minimum ban of five matches and Rs 6 lakh fine for an alleged racist remark against referees after a match against FC Goa.

Frustrated after East Bengal’s 1-1 draw against a 10-man FC Goa in Margaon on January 29, Fowler had allegedly said the refereeing was either “anti-English or anti-East Bengal”.

Video footage of the Englishman making the remark could not be assessed as it has been deleted from all platforms.

“The match commissioner has taken a strong note of the incident and reported the matter to the disciplinary committee which will take the decision after hearing Fowler’s version on Wednesday evening,” an ISL official told PTI on Tuesday.

“If he’s proven guilty, he is liable for a minimum five-match ban and Rs 6 lakh fine,” he added.

On Tuesday, Indian Super League side Odisha FC sacked its head coach Stuart Baxter for making an unsavoury comment on rape to criticise a refereeing decision after the team’s loss to Jamshedpur FC.

The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) disciplinary committee will make a decision on Wednesday after hearing Fowler’s version through video conferencing.

The Liverpool legend is being charged under Article 59.1 (a) of the AIFF disciplinary code that states: “Anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, colour, language, religion or origin shall be suspended for at least five matches.

“Furthermore, a stadium ban and a fine of at least Rs 3,00,000 shall be imposed. If the perpetrator is an official, the fine shall be at least Rs 6,00,000.”

The standard of refereeing has often been an issue in the ISL.

Odisha FC sacked Baxter with immediate effect and issued a public apology after the coach said, “One of my players will have to rape someone or get raped himself if he was going to get a penalty…”

As for Fowler, he had expressed his displeasure with refereeing on more than one occasion in this edition of the league, which is his first.

The 45-year-old had remarked that the referees probably need a “bit of help” after they were denied at least two penalties in a 0-2 loss against NorthEast United FC in December.

Then, after a goalless draw against Chennaiyin FC in January, he termed the refereeing “disgraceful” and had said he’s “fighting battles with the referees every single game and it’s an absolute joke”.

Fowler had also been suspended for one match after receiving his second caution of the season, which forced him to miss their match against Bengaluru FC on January 9. Danny Fox was, however, allowed to play in the said game after the disciplinary committee overturned a red card following a complaint by SCEB against the refereeing.

Playing in their maiden ISL season, East Bengal are currently placed 10th, above Odisha FC with six matches left.