ISL 2018-19: Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat blasts Indian referees, NorthEast United FC in pre-semi-final rant

Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat blasts referee MB Santhosh Kumar, who officiated the first leg of their semi-final against NorthEast United, and indirectly accuses NorthEast's players of putting pressure on the referees to get crucial decisions in their favour.

Kaushal Shukla March 11, 2019 12:49:27 IST
ISL 2018-19: Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat blasts Indian referees, NorthEast United FC in pre-semi-final rant
  • NorthEast United head to the Sree Kanteerava Stadium with a 2-1 advantage.

  • Injuries to key players and scoring that Xisco away goal puts the home side in a great position to turn the scoreline around in their own backyard.

  • Cuadrat questioned ISL’s decision to not have a foreign referee for the first leg in Guwahati when the other semi between Mumbai City and FC Goa had one.

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC’s Spanish coach Carles Cuadrat blasted referee MB Santhosh Kumar for failing to control players during a late set-piece that led to NorthEast United’s second goal in the first leg of the semi-final tie in Guwahati ahead of the return leg on Monday.

The Spaniard also indirectly accused NorthEast United’s players of putting pressure on the referees to get crucial decisions in their favour throughout the season. The Bengaluru coach launched an attack on their semi-final opponents digging out incidents from the past where he felt NorthEast United were generously awarded penalties, while also suggesting how some of their players seem to strategically make the most of the last-minute frenzy to get decisions in their favour.

ISL 201819 Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat blasts Indian referees NorthEast United FC in presemifinal rant

File image of Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat . Image courtesy: SPORTZPICS for ISL

“Do you think that it’s a coincidence that (Juan) Mascia gets three penalties at crucial moments this season? No coincidence,” said Cuadrat.

“In the first leg, it was the last minute, a direct ball. It wasn’t only Mascia who fell down. Another South American, (Jose) Leudo, also falls down. Is it a coincidence that two players fall down? I respect Leudo and Mascia, but they are professionals. They smell they can have an opportunity and the referee decides to give them the opportunity without NorthEast creating any chance,” he added.

On multiple occasions, Cuadrat brought up the incident where NorthEast United were awarded a late penalty away to Delhi Dynamos that helped them rescue a point. He accused Highlanders’ striker Bartolomew Ogbeche of diving to get the spot kick by making a drowning gesture in the pre-match press conference ahead of the second leg.

The Spaniard didn’t stop there and hinted that NorthEast United had created pressure on the referees by making a big fuss of some decisions that went against them in their previous game which happened to be against Bengaluru at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

“NorthEast United said they were denied three penalties during the game at the Kanteerava. It’s not true. Next week they get a penalty against Delhi Dynamos because they make an echo in the previous game. So maybe the comments have an impact on the penalty they got in Delhi,” accused the 50-year old.

Cuadrat’s rant appeared to be based on his observations and subsequently developed opinion, but he might have crossed the line by mentioning the nationalities of the NorthEast United players he felt were trying to influence the referee’s decision.

“Mascia has won three penalties in extra time this season. It means points for the team and now one-goal advantage in the semi-final. I have full respect for Mascia, I have full respect for Uruguayan players, but they are very competitive and know a lot about football. It’s a country full of football, they have won Copa America, they have won World Cups,” said Cuadrat.

His mention of Uruguay and South America was as bizarre as it was uncalled for. Maybe the anger of conceding a last-minute penalty in the first leg got the better of him.

The Bengaluru coach also stated that his team has always played in the best spirit of the game and hailed his players for being honest and not resorting to simulation to get decisions their way.

“We are a very offensive team with players like Udanta (Singh), Sunil (Chhetri) and Miku. They are the kind of players like Messi who get up as soon as they fall down. So despite having three of the best strikers in the country, we get only one penalty in the entire season. We don’t complain, but others teams do,” the Spanish coach said before referring to how NorthEast United had complained for not getting decisions during their league game in Bengaluru.

Cuadrat thus hinted that his team were made to pay the price for being honest, while other teams, which didn’t necessarily observe the same level of fairplay, have been rewarded with decisions in their favour.

The Spaniard complained that his team have never been awarded a penalty during the 95 corners and 65 free-kicks his team have won this season despite his players being fouled on numerous occasions.

Cuadrat who seemed adamant to make a point stated he had no problems with players of other teams trying everything to help their respective teams, but felt the referees needed to show more competence in dealing with such situations. Referring to last week’s penalty decision, Cuadrat accused referee MB Santosh Kumar of playing to the crowd’s desperation.

“Last week, maybe the referee feels that he’s in a comfortable situation. If I give a penalty, twenty thousand people will clap for me and he whistles. Maybe he wants to live that kind of sensation,” the Spaniard opined.

The 50-year-old coach was incensed how the referee didn’t spot Mascia’s initial push on Harmanjyot Singh Khabra that led to the Indian holding the Uruguayan in the box. He felt the referee should have paused play and stopped the pushing and shoving before allowing the free-kick. But Cuadrat felt the referee only decided to “take part” in the situation when Khabra was holding Mascia.

The Spaniard also questioned ISL’s decision to not have a foreign referee for the first leg in Guwahati when the other semi-final between Mumbai City and FC Goa had one.

“I have another question. Yesterday there was an international referee in the Mumbai-Goa game, maybe when they come from another country they don’t have feel the stress to manage the situation. For me to finish that game with a penalty was a mistake of failing to control the situation,” said Cuadrat.

Responding to the Bengaluru coach’s comments, NorthEast United boss Eelco Schattorie chose to have a much calmer response and urged some “objectivity” from his opposite number.

“It was a clear penalty. He (Khabra) almost undressed Mascia inside the box. If he doesn’t think it’s a penalty then it’s his opinion. There was a clear foul on Mascia in the build-up to Bengaluru’s goal, so I think you should be objective about these things,” Schattorie responded.

The Dutchman revealed he was in no mood to nag about incidents in the past and felt it was important focus on the game ahead.

Cuadrat has made his displeasure felt in a very vocal manner. This is either a way of putting pressure on the referee ahead of a massive game or a clear sign that he’s feeling a bit of pressure ahead of the decisive second leg.

NorthEast United head to the Sree Kanteerava Stadium with a 2-1 advantage, but injuries to key players and scoring that Xisco away goal puts the home side in a great position to turn the scoreline around in their own backyard.

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