The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strict security for today’s replay

Imphal, Nov. 2: Hardev Jadeja, chairman of the AIFF disiplinary committee, Saturday had talks with AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, secretary Albert Colaco, the local organisers of the 58th Santosh Trophy and the police before deciding that the abandoned second semi-final should be replayed at 1 pm tomorrow.

There are some riders, however. None of the spectators who had torn up their tickets will be allowed in. “Bad luck to them,” said Jadeja. Only those who have retained the counterfoils get entry. With the number of tickets being torn up being big, the crowd tomorrow should be thin.

Jadeja also said nobody will be allowed to take into the ground umbrellas, sticks, drums, or water bottles. Anything that is felt would threaten safety will be confiscated. Even water and soft drinks will not be sold inside the Khuman Lampak complex.

The police has promised to deploy 700 personnel in all 15 enclosures. There will also be three armoured companies, plus 300 commandos and more men. IG police Romenkumar Singh told The Telegraph: “I guarantee there will be no trouble tomorrow in the stands.” Singh is known hereabouts to be the tough cop of the area.

The arrangement sounds like a war gear-up. What has yet to be decided is whether there will be batons to be wielded.

The other decision was on the match officials of the day. The axe is most certainly falling on referee S.M. Balu of Karnataka, said match commissioner S.S. Shetty.

“We, however, just might retain the assistant referees," said Shetty, meaning Biswajit Bera of Bengal, on whose side the off-side happened, could be back in action. Depicts, again, the myopia of the AIFF.

The other lacuna of the AIFF was in not keeping any senior offical of the feredation in Imphal for such an important event. Had Jadeja not been around Saturday, there would have been nobody here who could have even tried to take any decision on the matter. It is so typical of the national body to shirk responsibility, and shoddy planing has become the hallmark of the AIFF.

Jadeja said he was not aware why the AIFF was neglecting the Santosh Trophy championship. He said he wasn’t here on any AIFF-ordered business and had got embroiled. The issue comes out as a rather acrid one, because just a couple of days back the organisers, the All Manipur Football Association, had taken an almost unilateral decision to ban players for months and to fine them too, for unruly behaviour in quarter final matches. Those players were mainly from Tamil Nadu and Bengal. Even the assistant coach of Bengal, Sishir Ghosh, was pulled up.

While secretary Colaco has been learnt to stress that this decision of the organisers can only affect the tournament (therefore being untenable after it), Jadeja Saturday also hinted the decision has been beyond the limits of the organisers’ disciplinary committee.

Also, in a meeting late Friday, a Services protest regarding a goal disallowed versus Kerala in the first semi-final (as well as a decision of a yellow card against the Kerala goalkeeper for handling the ball outside the box), was thrown out. Incidentally, the Services had Friday refused to accept the ‘bronze’ medal given to the semi-final losers and Jadeja was also critical of this behaviour.

And now this problem.

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