East Bengal's Fowler suspended after criticising ISL referees

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(Reuters) - SC East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler has been suspended for four matches and fined 500,000 rupees ($6,860) for criticising refereeing decisions in the Indian Super League (ISL), the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said.

Liverpool great Fowler, who has been a vocal critic of officiating standards since joining the team on a two-year deal in October, was reported by media to have said he was "not sure whether referees have an anti-English or anti-East Bengal thing" following a 1-1 draw with 10-man FC Goa last month.

Fowler's comments were not racist but cast aspersions on the integrity of match officials, the AIFF said in a statement.

"The adverse remarks have questioned the integrity and honesty of match officials who have supervised the matches with the best of their abilities with sincerity and maintaining neutrality," the governing body said.

"Moreover, anyone making any criticism through public media must be extremely cautious to ensure that under the garb of criticism and remarks in no way defame someone either directly or by innuendos."

The 45-year-old former England international will miss matches against Jamshedpur FC, Hyderabad FC, ATK Mohun Bagan and NorthEast United FC as a result of the suspension.

East Bengal are second-bottom in the standings with 13 points from 15 games.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru)

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