After 10-game ban for walkout, Vukomanovic maintains Chhetri's freekick goal was invalid

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

On his return to football after serving a 10-match suspension, Kerala Blasters head coach Ivan Vukomanovic has said he stands firm on his decision to walk out from an ISL match last season.

In the post-match, after seeing his side comeback to win 2-1 against Odisha FC, Vukomanovic has reaffirmed that Sunil Chhetri's 'quick freekick' goal in the extra time of last season's playoffs between Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC was not valid.

Vukomanovic had initiated a walkout on March 3rd that resulted in the Blasters abandoning the match and resulting in him getting the ban. Tonight, on his return to management, Vukomanovic declared that he hasn't moved on.

On being asked if he stands firm on the decision to walk out, Vukomanovic repeatedly said: "YES."

"If you decide to take it in the first 2-3 seconds that's a quick freekick. What happened in Bengaluru was a shot after 29 seconds. Then there is the rule that when you spray at a position, you have to wait for the signal.

"Before we started this season, I was telling the guys from the federation that listen now every time we have a position like that we are going to shoot, so if you disallow the goal shows that rules are not the same for everybody," Vukomanovic said.

'Part of my character'

Vukomanovic said his unprecedented act of defiance in the ISL last season was an outcome of his upbringing in a country that has seen much conflict and tension. The 46-year-old was born in Yugoslavia before it broke up; he represents one of the nations born out of it: Serbia.

"It comes from a family education, your mentality, your character. I remember, when I was a young boy ... being oppressed many times in history, the conflicts, the world wars, I don't want to go into those things. But there is a mentality that we learn, our parents teach us that whenever there is injustice against you, your family, your loved ones, in this case, your team, you have to react. That is in my character," Vukomanovic said.

The Blasters coach says he wouldn't always find fault in referees. "I am just saying the league has to draw in a better environment, better technology and conditions so that they can improve."

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