Campion, Cooperage cried foul after a penalty decision against defending champions Don Bosco, Matunga in a crucial league match of the U-16 Div I Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) inter-school football tournament at Azad Maidan on Saturday.
Campion drew 1-1 against the Matunga side. Skipper Abhishek Agarwal netted the goal for the Colaba outfit in the 47th minute, but just three minutes before the final whistle came assistant referee Rajesh Kanojia’s penalty decision and Bosco captain Pierre Noronha scored in the 57th minute.
The Cooperage team dominated the proceedings all through and were on the verge of winning the tie when the decision led to a change in their standing on the points table. Before the match, Don Bosco were leading with 22 points, while Campion had 16 from eight matches. After the tie, last-year’s runners-up Campion found themselves tied fourth with Bombay Scottish, Mahim at 17 points.
Campion coach Alex Wilfred Alva said they lost the match because of poor refereeing. “A win could have kept our hopes alive for a top-three finish. This is totally unfair on MSSA’s part. The referee gave a wrong hand-ball decision. This has happened to us in three earlier matches. We lost a match that we could have easily won,” said a livid Alva.
A referee, on condition of anonymity, said: “I fully support the decision given by the linesman. Even if I accept the decision as a human error, we always end up bearing the brunt. MSSA is equally at fault. We are always at the receiving end — parents, players and coaches everybody come and abuse us. MSSA never takes any action on coaches or parents.
If MSSA talks about improving football standards they should think about treating us as human beings. We are not even given a cup of tea. And with a remuneration of Rs 100 per match what do they expect? We are frustrated. What if we stop refereeing?” he asked. However, MSSA executive committee member Joseph Monteiro said: “Our job is to appoint the referees. We don’t pay them to make such blunders.”