After weeks of silence surrounding the departure of Karim Bencherifa from Salgaocar Football Club, the Management has finally opened up and clarified their stand on the issue. “It is difficult to understand what Bencherifa is trying to do” said R.A.J. Gomes, General Secretary of Salgaocar FC. “Despite hearing that he has been seeking meetings with other club presidents and local officials to give them his version of his resignation, we were gracious enough to not even comment on his departure till his latest public expression of displeasure“ he continues.

Salgaocar Secretary, R.A.J. Gomes

Karim allegedly met with Presidents of other Goan I-League clubs before he left Goa for Kolkata presumably to explain his stand on leaving the Salgaocar midway through the season. He also gave an interview to a national daily just before he left saying that there was mistrust between him and the management. But the Salgaocar secretary has refuted all these theories. “I really don’t know what to make of this maneuvering; there is no need to create confusion around the issue when it is clear that he left Salgaocar at the beginning of a season, for a better offer” said Gomes.

After a good many senior players were left sitting on the bench last year, it is indeed surprising that the coach picks on his young team – a team that he himself has selected.  “There is no doubt that he is an excellent Coach” declares Gomes “we won the I-League in 2010/11 under his guidance with young players. Of course he has hasn’t left Salgaocar because of the fresh team – getting the most out of players is his forte. In fact after all the negative feedback that appeared in the media and social networking sites about senior players leaving Salgaocar last year because of the Coach, I’m amazed that he has mentioned this as a cause of unhappiness, especially after Salgaocar has only supported him during that phase.”

Although Bencherifa has been trying to hush all “traitor” accusations from fans and media with an “I refused the National Team for Salgaocar”, the well informed coach is probably aware that the National Federation does not poach coaches; a coach cannot join the National team without the concerned club’s stated consent.

Responding to Bencherifa’s accusation that the club should have treated him better, Gomes is left surprised. “He has been with Salgaocar FC for almost 3 years, the longest he has been with any club. You are quite mistaken if you think Karim would take any sort of mistreatment lying down, that too for so long”, he smiles. 

In the industry, it is an unwritten rule that the 1 month notice termination clause in Coaching contracts is usually exercised in dire situations or emergencies.  Unlike many other business relationships, a contract between a club and a coach has an implicit fiduciary obligation on both sides; professional clubs and coaches do not usually fire resign on a whim or for a higher bid.

Gomes further expresses his consternation about Karim’s desire to have left Salgaocar FC on a happier note – “Just as it is difficult for a coach who is fired mid season to leave a club on a happy note, it is difficult for a club to be happy about their Head Coach resigning for a higher bid, 2 months into the season. Karim understands that I’m sure, he’s not unrealistic”

With regards to Bencherifa’s statement that ‘It’s not all about the money, but the family too does require security’, Gomes is bemused. “In fact just at the beginning of this season, Karim mentioned that he would want a 3 year contract with Salgaocar as his wife and children need stability and want to settle down in one place. Less than a month later, he has moved to Mohun Bagan for an 18 month contract. Maybe his definition of stability has changed now,” he says. “The irony is that just 2 days before he resigned, he sent our Club President an article from The Hindu Business Line about the wrong-doings of Mohun Bagan’s Management and Officials regarding the career and reputations of their coaches” he concluded.

Karim’s second innings with Mohun Bagan is set to begin tomorrow against Mumbai FC at Balewadi Sports Complex. But the major talking point at his second “homecoming” as the Kolkata faithful put it- would be his relationship with start striker Odafa Okolie. It is a well known secreta that Churchill Alemao chose his star striker over Karim when the two had a tiff at Karim’s first Indian club Churchill Brothers. That made him leave Churchill for Mohun Bagan leading the Mariners to one of their best finishes in recent years.