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Controversial refereeing in BPL raises question

  • Sports Correspondent
  • 20th March, 2022 01:06:58 AM
  • Print news
Controversial refereeing in BPL raises question

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Bangladesh Football Federation or the concerned authorities are habituated with the controversial refereeing in the country’s domestic football league -- especially in the top tier leagues including premier league, championship league and others tournaments.

The controversial decision doesn’t always favour the big teams even if the referees have options they don’t try to correct their errors. The same thing has happened in Friday’s Bangladesh Premier League match between Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Ltd and Bangladesh Police Football Club at the Muktijoddha Smrity Stadium in Rajshahi.

The controversial penalty from referee Bitu Raj in the second-half frustrated Sheikh Russel in their must-winning match and forced them to share points after a 1-1 draw against the home side Police.

The former BPL champions Sheikh Russel took a 1-0 lead with a header from their forward Mohammad Jewel in the 49th minute of the game before the referee’s questionable decision.

The incident happened when Police’s Brazilian midfielder Denilson Rodrigues sent a cross inside Sheikh Russel’s box from a counterattack. Police defender Esanur Rahman ran after the ball.

Sheikh Russel’s defender Rahmat Mia chased him down. Esanur fell on the ground near the sideline, though Rahmat didn’t push him. But referee Bitu Raj, who was on the other side of the box, whistled for the penalty. Police German forward Adil Kouskous seized the chance and made no mistake to equalize the margin in the 69th minute (1-1).

After the draw, Sheikh Russel interim head coach Zulfiker Mahmud Mintu told The Daily Sun that they were frustrated after the partial penalty decision. 

“We tried hard, but ultimately we lost everything. We are frustrated after the partial penalty decision. I don’t know how it could be a penalty! Of course, we made several mistakes in the match, we missed some opportunities but the decision was a game-changer,” he said.

Sheikh Russel players and coaches instantly appealed against the penalty but the referee was determined on his decision. He didn’t even discuss the penalty with the assistant referees at all.

Sheikh Russel captain Ashraful Islam Rana said the penalty ruined the team’s tempo, coordination and confidence.

“A wrong decision can ruin tempo and coordination among the players; can demotivate the entire team which suffered badly to us in the last match against Police. We appeared on the field with a winning attitude. The first-half wasn’t good for us but we played intensively from the beginning of the second-half, especially after the 1-0 lead,” he said.

“The goal boosted us all. I saved some attacks from the Police while our strikers continued their pressure on the opponents’ defense. Some close chances were wasted, those were our fault, but the game-changer was the penalty decision. I saw the entire incident. Rahmat didn’t push him (opponents’ player). We told the referee to talk with others (assistant referee) but he didn’t do it,” he added. 

“It was really heartbreaking for us as we promised our Chairman Sir (Bashundhara Group Managing Director and Sheikh Russel KC Chairman Sayem Sobhan Anvir) about winning the game but we failed due to this unexpected incident,” he further added. 

The Daily Sun reporter, who covered the match, talked with some local former footballers and sports journalists who were present in the press box and watched the 90-minute gameplay.

“I think the decision of the referee was partial. It can’t be a penalty. The ball was far away from the players. The referees should be more careful before taking any decision in this type of crucial game,” one of the local footballers said.

“The referee gave the decision in favour of the home team (Police FC). Football has lost its popularity in this situation. If the federation fails to maintain the quality of a top-tier league, the entire sports fraternity will be demotivated,” a local sports journalist said.

Bangladesh Football Federation general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag told The Daily Sun that they are working on recruiting foreign referees to officiate the game in domestic football.

“We will give feedback regarding this issue within one day or two,” he said.