AIFF Disciplinary Committee fine Pires and reduces Habas’ ban

Published 12 November 2014 By: Manali Kulkarni

Robert Pires 2014

On October 25, 2014, Robert Pires, playing in the Indian Super League (ISL)1 for FC Goa2, and Atletico de Kolkata3 coach Antonio Lopez Habas filed reports on an alleged incident from October 23, 2014, where Habas “reportedly punched” Pires during half-time.4 According to Pires’ statements, which FC Goa coach, Zico, confirmed, the incident occurred in the tunnel as both teams left for half time, when Pires was punched in the face by Habas.5

Habas had been warned6 about his conduct on the October 18, 2014, following his behavior after Atletico won 2-0 against North East United7 on October 16, 2014. Habas was informed that any future infringement would sanctioned under Article 58 of the AIFF Disciplinary Code8 (explained below).

Atletico de Kolkata owner Utsav Parekh noted that CCTV footage should be available for the incident, making it relatively simple to know what exactly happened in that moment.9 Video recordings are considered admissible evidence under Article 9710, ‘Various Types of Proof’, of the AIFF Disciplinary Code.

A separate incident occurred at the same game between FC Goa and Atletico de Kolkata, when striker, Fikru Teferra Lemessa, headbutted FC Goa player, Gregory Arnolin, right after the whistle for half-time. Following the incident, FC Goa’s Team Manager, Jonathan D'Sousa, reportedly complained to the Match Commissioner that Lemessa should have been “expelled” for headbutting Arnolin by the Referee.11

The third complication concerned the FC Goa’s goalkeeping coach, Pradipkumar Bhaktawer, who was sent off during the game against Kolkata after repeadly walking onto the pitch. 12

The AIFF Disciplinary Committee’s October 25, 2014 decision13 addressed the above mentioned matters and concluded that:

Anyone who insults someone in anyway, especially by using offensive gestures or language, will be sanctioned with a match suspension. If the perpetrator is a player, he will be suspended for at least two (2) matches; if he is an official, he will be suspended for at least four (4) matches.14

  • The AIFF initially banned Habas for four games, and issued a Rs. 5,00,000 (5,085 GBP) fine15. Pires was suspended for two matches and faces the same amount of fine as Habas, for Rs. 5,00,000 (5,085 GBP).16
  • Lemessa was also found guilty under Article 58 of the AIFF Disciplinary Code for headbutting and suspended for the next two consecutive matches and faces Rs. 5,00,000 (5,085 GBP) fine as well.17
  • The goalkeeping coach for FC Goa, Pradipkumar Bhaktawer, sent off during the game against Kolkata, was also suspended from the next ISL match and fined 30,000 Rupees (305.51 GBP), on the basis of breaching League Rule 22.2 which states that behaviour such as repeatedly entering the field of play will be sanctioned.18

Pires and Habas then had four days to appeal this decision, which both parties opted to do within the timeframe, pursuant to Articles 12119 of the AIFF Disciplinary Code.

On October 31, 2014, the AIFF Disciplinary Committee decided to reduced Habas’ initial four- match ban to a two-match ban, applicable to consecutive ISL matches played after October 23, 2014, when the alleged incident occurred.20

The Disciplinary Committee further explained that two months following October 23, 2014 will be considered a probationary period. That is, if Habas commits another infringement of the Disciplinary Code in those two months, the remaining two-match ban will automatically be applied in addition to a new, appropriate sanction for the new breach.21

The monetary fine of Rs. 5,00,000 (5,085 GBP) remains as initially set on October 25, 2014 for all relevant parties. The Chairman of the AIFF Disciplinary Committee confirmed that there have been no other changes to these sanctions.22


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Manali Kulkarni

Manali Kulkarni

Manali is the COO at LawInSport and executive contributor of the editorial board for LawInSport. She holds an LLM in Sports Law from Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University).

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