The I-League Core Committee meeting

As the long awaited news of the AIFF’s decision on the turn of events during the Kolkata Derby (Match number: 68, Kingfisher East Bengal v McDowells Mohun Bagan, Dated: 9th Dec 2012) hit various social media platforms, there was an avalanche of mixed reactions from the Indian football faithful. Fans supporting the Mariners obviously were left lamenting the decision, terming it  ‘A Black Day’ , whereas fans of other clubs felt the federation had to swallow a bitter pill in making the correct decision. TheHardTackle’s in-house pundits speak their mind in a debate that revolves around the million dollar question at the moment – Did the AIFF make the right decision in banning one of the most prestigious football clubs in India ?

Yes- AIFF had to ban the Club in order to command respect from all the clubs.

Rahul Bhutani:

As news of Mohun Bagan being banned by the AIFF trickled in, angry and dejected Bagan fans flooded social media platforms with anti-AIFF tirades crying foul and injustice but given what transpired in the match, the AIFF had no other option but to take that stand. Bagan walked out of the match without any intimation to the Match Commissioner, an event that is bound to be punished in any professional league with an probably the same penalty that the AIFF has levied. Bagan were on the field for almost 40 minutes and no untoward incident had taken place until Odafa decided to protest against the referee and got a red-card and the AIFF is not wrong to believe that the match could have gone on smoothly

Coming to the AIFF , had the footballing body not punished Bagan it would have set a wrong precedent which could have resulted in clubs boycotting and walking out of their matches whenever they were losing. A top Salgaocar official is believed to have echoed the same thoughts in front of media as have certain other club officials. As the AIFF makes efforts to make the I-League a professional league, this is a very important step. One can argue that a lot more needs to be done to make the league a professional setup, but this step from AIFF will mean that the clubs take the AIFF more seriously and abide by the rules. It is often said that a lot of top clubs have influenced the AIFF in regards to the disciplinary matters but this step would no doubt go a long way in setting things right.

Despite all the loyalties and cries from Bagan fans, the AIFF has surely taken a bitter but a correct step which augurs well for Indian Football

 Joseph George:

AIFF should stick to the rules and regulations, and a ban for Mohun Bagan will be the right step considering the future. AIFF should not consider the club’s pedigree or fan following to take a favorable decision towards the club, as it will mislead other clubs to follow similar paths in the future. The rule should be the same for the rich and the poor; and there should not be any discrimination based on external influencing factors. This verdict should act as an eye opener for the wrong doers and it will help to set things straight after the melee. Bending the back to one club might lead to a lot of wrongs in the future. It is believed that some of the clubs representatives already voiced their opinion that they will follow the same path if no action is taken against Mohun Bagan. If that is the case, then it will set an alternate path and eventually it will lead to worse nightmares for Indian Football. In future no one should dare to take such actions! Currently a corrective measure can put things back on track even if it means losing a good fan base of the accused club, but in the long runit will reap rewards and can put teams and fans under check.

The team can come back stronger after the ban period, and they will be the first one to follow the rules and regulations and will become the preachers of fair play in the future. In general, it can act as a catalyst to a new era in Indian Football. Banters will be there as usual, but the beautiful game will remain beautiful and its magic can attract the fans over time.

No- It is a ridiculous decision and does not help Indian football in any sort of way.

Somnath Sengupta:

How many of the core committee members which dished out Mohun Bagan’s punishment were present in Eden Gardens on 16th August, 1980. If they had been present they would have known that general consensus from that day was a large number of those 16 innocent lives that were lost that day would have been saved had to police intervened before the match got over. Instead, the match was allowed to end while more than a dozen men, some of them mere boys lost their lives in gallery. Would AIFF have taken responsibility if the same happened on 9th December? Possibly not. In the end, technicalities like Mohun Bagan playing for a minute and half after Nabi’s injury have taken precedence over the seriousness of the situation. In the chaos that ensued in last few minutes of that half it would have been difficult for anyone to take a drastic situation like walking out of a match.

Mohun Bagan must not be held completely blameless, the handling of this whole matter was unprofessional on their part but the degree of punishment is beyond sanity. Does a referee give a second yellow card every time for a bookable offence? No. Human discretion is very important when it comes to rules, otherwise we’d all be robots. AIFF must understand that only two clubs bring spectators to grounds, a rare commodity in Indian football. WHO is going to watch their league if they take out one of those two? AIFF’s bid to popularize I-League will be pegged back 30 years if they ban Mohun Bagan for two seasons. Mohun Bagan will retain their fans, but they may not be interested in I-League. The club deserved punishment but AIFF should have thought about long term future as well.

As for the other clubs following Bagan’s footsteps if the club was not punished? Sure, they are most welcome to do it if one of their players end up spending days in hospital after being hit by a stone during a match.

In the end, this is a silly, silly decision and will not be beneficial to any of the parties in long run.

Kunwar Deep Singh:

The bleak crowd turn up during the matches and degrading TRP’s on the idiot box – that’s the I-league story; something this is known to all the fans who love the beautiful game played in this part of the world. Clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and even JCT (now disbanded) are household and historic names. Turning back the pages of Indian football history, the name of these clubs would pop up numerous times. The turn of events during the first leg of the derby in Kolkata was very sad indeed. No true fan wants that to happen during a high voltage and much awaited match. Mohun Bagan’s decision of not turning up for the second half of the match could be and could very well not be a justifiable decision. AIFF Player of the year and India international Syed Rahim Nabi was hit and was speculated to be critical at that time.

Mohun Bagan chose to ignore the match and stepped out of the stadium. Even if the decision was wrong, AIFF found the club guilty. But the federation should have shown a little maturity in handing out the punishment. A club which was incepted in 1889 flaunts over five thousand Facebook fans, a fully functional website and normally attracts huge crowd during the matches. There are very few clubs in India at present which can boast aforementioned details. Although the decision might look apt for the “audacity” shown by the Mohun Bagan team, but the long term vision was clearly ignored by the federation while drafting the final outcome. Indian football is not in a state to bounce back from such big decisions. We could very well see Mohun Bagan, go down the spiral just like Mohammedan Sporting Club, after all the big players fall prey to shrewd scavengers. If Pailan Arrows can’t get relegated, keeping a future vision in mind, Mohun Bagan could have also got away with a  points penalty or a huge monetary fine. Ejecting them from the premier division for so long, is no solution.

What do you think about his important decision by the AIFF? Lets us know by posting your comments in the comments section.