IN A SHOCKING TWIST to the controversial head-butt saga, Atletico de Kolkata forward Baljit Singh Sahni has alleged that FC Goa defender Gregory Arnolin had incited him with a racist comment, which led to the incident.
In a report published in Bengali tabloid "Ebela", Baljit has alleged that the French centre-back had called him a "M*****f****** Indian" which caused him to lose his cool and retaliate with a head-butt, leading to the referee immediately sending him off.
There is no mention of any racist comment in the referee's post-match official report.
Speaking to "Ebela" Baljit said,
"Arnolin made obscene comments about my mother and my country. I don't know if anyone has made such racist comments in Indian football before... if you see the video clippings you'll know he lowered his head and said the words so that the referee doesn't know what's going on."
FIFA takes a hard stance on racist comments in football. It is mandatory for clubs to report any allegations of racist comments. But ISL being a non-FIFA private tournament it isn't clear if the same process applies to it. It will be more or less on AIFF to intervene and see that this matter is properly addressed.
The way Atletico de Kolkata have dealt with this issue so far speaks of the immaturity still prevalent among the administration of the franchise. One of their officials told "Ebela",
"We have no proof that something like this was said. That's why we are not making any complaints."
This shockingly casual and unprofessional dismissal of alleged racist comments made against their own player, if not entirely down to inexperience and lack of genuine commitment that is typical of ISL franchises, may be motivated by something worse; an attempt to cover up a wrongdoing against their own player just to protect the image of the ISL brand.
But now that Baljit has spoken out this incident cannot be subdued any more. The ball is now in the court of ATK and AIFF; it's up to them to see that this allegation of grave wrongdoing gets to see a due process towards justice.
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