Kochi: Kerala Blasters have lodged an appeal against the disciplinary action imposed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for their premature departure from the playoff match against Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL). The club has taken the matter to the AIFF Appeals Committee, contesting the Rs 4 crore fine and the 10-match ban imposed on Coach Ivan Vukomanovic, who was also fined Rs 5 lakh. Additionally, the club and the coach were required to issue a public apology. On April 2, the club and Coach Vukomanovic publicly expressed regret, which has now provided them with an opportunity to appeal the decision.
The playoff match took place on March 3 at Bengaluru's home ground, Sri Kanteerava Stadium, and witnessed one of the most controversial events in the history of the ISL. After a goalless 90 minutes, the match went into extra time. During the game, a free kick was awarded to Bengaluru outside the Blasters' box in the 96th minute. Bengaluru's Sunil Chhetri took a quick kick before the Blasters' players and goalkeeper were prepared to block it. The Blasters' players argued that the kick was taken before they were ready, but the referee, Crystal John, maintained that it was a legitimate quick kick and rejected the team's objection. Subsequently, Blasters' coach Ivan Vukomanovic instructed the team to leave the field, and Bengaluru won the match.
Bengaluru advanced to the semi-finals after defeating Mumbai City FC, but lost to ATK Mohun Bagan in the final. Kerala Blasters will face Bengaluru again later this month in Kozhikode in the Hero Super League.