I-League Side Mohun Bagan Hit With Two-Year Ban Following East Bengal Incident
India's oldest football club, I-League Mohun Bagan, has been kicked out of the league and banned two years after "refusing to take the field for the second half" of its crowd trouble-hit derby against East Bengal earlier this month, according to Amlan Chakraborty of REUTERS. Mohun Bagan was trailing its arch-rivals 1-0 on Dec. 9 in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata when one of its players was "hit by a stone hurled from the stands." The match resumed after a near 15-minute interruption, but Mohun Bagan "did not return to the field." An All India Football Federation statement said that Mohun Bagan "had been thrown out of the ongoing I-League competition," its matches had been "declared null and void," and it would "be disqualified from the next two editions of the league" (REUTERS, 12/29).
THE NEXT STEP: The PTI reported Mohun Bagan called AIFF’s suspension “opposed to football policy” and “hurtful.” The club said that it has "yet to decide in which forum it would contest the ruling." Mohun Bagan General Secretary Anjan Mitra said, "We have received a 17-page order and we’re discussing about our next step... in which forum we shall take the matter." Claiming that the decision was a step backward, Mitra said, “Indian football, fans and peace-loving people are deeply hurt by the judgement. It’s opposed to football policy and in no way can take Indian football forward.” Mitra also "stood by the club’s decision to pull out after the interval against East Bengal on Dec. 9 when Syed Rahim Nabi was injured following violence in the stands." Mitra: “Football is important, but life is more important to us. There was a huge risk factor had we continued playing. Those who question our move don't know the ground realities." Meanwhile, "hundreds of fans holding placards chanted slogans outside the club tent and blocked the Gostha Pal Sarani that connects Eden Gardens." A protester shouted, “We cannot forget this day. It’s a black day in the club’s history” (PTI, 12/29).