‘I never entered the field of play’

PANAJI: In a strongly worded letter to the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the head coach of Dempo Sports Club, Armando Colaco has sent a fitting reply, defending himself of all charges with regard to entering the field of play in the I-League match against East Bengal played on November 3.

It may be recalled that Armando was issued a show cause notice on November 14 after the referee’s report mentioned him as entering the field of play to protest against the booking of Ryuji Sueoka for diving when majority thought that it was a clear penalty for Dempo after Saumik Dey brought down the Japanese striker.

The AIFF then, 11 days later, sent a show cause notice to Armando asking him to reply why action should not be taken against him for entering the field of play.

To this Armando replied asking for the referee’s report and match clippings to enable him to reply to the charges. However his request was turned down and he was asked to reply by November 21, failing which he would be penalised or even banned from the touchline.

"To the best of my knowledge and belief I did not enter the field of play for protesting against the referee’s decision. My colleagues as well as the players on the substitutes bench have confirmed that I did not enter the field of play," said Armando in his reply to AIFF.

"The fact that neither the referee cautioned me nor did the reserve referee come towards me shows that I did not commit any infringement. The FIFA Rules clearly stipulate that if an official enters the field of play, the referee must have him removed from the field of play and if his behaviour is irresponsible, the referee must expel him from the field of play and its immediate surroundings. In this case, the referee neither cautioned me nor expelled me from the field of play which indicates that I did nothing wrong", he added in his letter, a copy of which has been addressed to Mr Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF and the Referee’s Department of AIFF.

Armando also cast a doubt on the AIFF’s intentions after the show cause notice was sent to him, 11 days after the incident actually happened.

"The said match took place on November 3, 2012 and I really cannot understand why and how it took so much of time to issue me a show cause notice on November 14. The time taken in coming to a decision appears to be prompted less by a desire to enforce match discipline and more by a dubious after-thought."

"I want to elucidate here that throughout my sporting career, both as a player and now also as a coach, I always conducted myself in a very dignified and respectful manner and will continue doing so as long as I live."

"As you have refused to furnish the documents on which you state you have based your decisions, I reserve the right to add to my reply in case of need in future", he said requesting himself to reply further in case the AIFF decides to press charges against the coach.

Armando further said that no newspaper in Kolkata mentioned about him entering the field of play.

"I do accept and admit that I moved out of my technical area and proceeded to the right side touch line when I noticed that my players were still reasoning with the referee, but this was only to calm down my players and to direct them to forget everything and to carry on with the game," stated Armando, who has won a record five I-League titles for Dempo.