Kerala Blasters apologise for ISL walkout, Vukomanovic regrets 'being part' of it

Kerala Blasters' head coach Ivan Vukomanovic instructs his players to walkout during the first half of extra time in the ISL knockout against Bengaluru FC on March 3. Photo: Screengrab

A month after their infamous walkout from the Indian Super League knockout match against Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters have apologised.

However, Blasters head coach Ivan Vukomanovic, who initiated the walkout, has not explicitly tendered an apology. Instead, in a note shared on Instagram, Vukomanovic has talked about how he regrets 'being part of' the 'negative circumstances'.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) Disciplinary Committe had found the club and its Serbian head coach guilty of bringing the game to disrepute with the walkout following a controversial free-kick goal scored by Sunil Chhetri in the first half of extra time that gave Bengaluru a 1-0 lead.

The Disciplinary Committee had fined Blasters Rs 4 crore and banned Vukomanovic for 10 matches. It had also demanded apologies from the club and the coach.

"We would like to express our sincerest regrets for the events that took place during our knockout match vs Bengaluru FC on March 3rd, 2023. We recognise that our decision to walk off the pitch prematurely was unfortunate and taken in the heat of the moment. We would like to reiterate our respect for the larger football fraternity and assure everyone that we will take necessary measure to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future," read a Kerala Blasters statement.

Ivan Vukomanovic's statement:
Dear all,
It has been couple of weeks since we were all caught by negative circumstances that happened on 3rd March this year during our last game.
It is certainly devastating to all football fans to witness and see such a thing. The emotion and love input in this beautiful game by fans, players, technical & medical staffs, media, etc. around the globe is priceless, and no one deserves nor wants to be actor of such an event.

These things are not supposed to be seen in sport arenas around the world and I regret being part of such a moment.
As a man of sport and football, I was always promoting correct conduct and FairPlay. These are without a doubt, some of the most important values of football game, and most of all, parts of sport education that we all have to pass to our future generations.
Today, it's been almost two years I'm connected with this beautiful country full of sport talent and potential.

We should all work harder in order to increase the level of football in India, and as a coach, I will always contribute myself to improvement of this beautiful game.
I would like to thank the owners, management, fans, players, coaches, people from media and many others around the world for words of support - it means a lot.

With empathy and smile we should all embrace our next challenges, live with the consequences of our own actions and all together work for the better future.
Sincerely yours, IV

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