THE TEAM MANAGEMENT OF Chennai City FC have formally lodged complaints with the AFC-appointed match commissioner about racist comments made by the referee and the opposition coach during their match against Bashundhara Kings at the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup.
During the first half of their group stage encounter at Chittagong's M. A. Aziz Stadium, a foul led to a arguments between the referee and CCFC's attacking midfielder Katsumi Yusa. At that point, the referee, Mr Lakmal Weerakoddy from Sri Lanka, is alleged to have said something that angered Katsumi to the point that he was shown a red card for disorderly conduct.
In a letter written to the Match Commissioner by the CCFC team manager alleges that Weerakoddy racially abused Katsumi,
"The centre referee said the following words, 'You Chinese come here to play in Bangladesh. This is not your place.'
We would like to reiterate that the player to who (sic) the referee passed the absurd statement is a Japanese National and the referee's statement is inconsiderate of this and borders on the line of racial abuse and this is a clear violation of FIFA and AFC anti-racism policy."
Immediately after the incident, Katsumi told his teammates about what had allegedly taken place. After he was sent off following a period of arguments, the whole team left the pitch in protest and stayed off until they were convinced to resume the match.
According to a source close to the club, Katsumi was deeply disturbed by the incident for a long time afterwards. He told his teammates he never expected to face such behaviour from an on-duty official, "I can understand fans doing it but a referee?"
Later, towards the end of the first half, another foul took place right before the reserve benches. At this point, Bashundhara Kings head coach Oscar Bruzon - who has previously spent many years in India coaching clubs like Sporting Clube de Goa, Mumbai City FC and Mumbai FC - lost his temper and ran towards the Chennai City technical area. He was confronted by CCFC head coach Akbar Nawas and the two exchanged words before players and officials from both clubs intervened and separated them. Both Bruzon and Nawas were shown a red card following that incident.
According to another letter of complaint written by the Chennai City team manager, Bruzon allegedly made a derogatory remark during that exchange,
"The head coach of Bashundhara Kings, Mr Oscar Bruzon, entered into the field of play and then came to the technical area where our head coach was standing.
He came very aggressively to him, to which in response our head coach in self defence protected himself from Mr Oscar Bruzon.
Mr Oscar Bruzon after being sent off made a racial comment whole team by saying, 'F****** hell bloody Indians.'
For no reason or mistake... our head coach was shown red card [by] the Centre Referee. We would like to request you to kindly reverse the red card for our head coach and also take appropriate action against Mr Oscar Bruzon."
This formal complaint, coupled with the match commissioner's report, will hopefully be taken up by the AFC's ethics committees for further investigation.
There's a pressing urgency of resolving this situation given that Chennai City FC and Bashundhara Kings are the reigning champions of India and Bangladesh; there's a high likelyhood of them facing each other in the Group Stage of AFC Cup 2020.
Unless the AFC takes immediate steps to resolve this controversy, the bad blood between these two clubs will be at the risk of boiling over during the continental championship.