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AIFF to seek legal opinion

Syed Rahim Nabi, after his surgery, at a city hospital, on Monday. Picture by Gautam Bose

Calcutta/ New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is treading cautiously on the Mohun Bagan issue even though the rule suggests that the green and maroon outfit should be barred from the I-League for two years.

Throughout Monday, the AIFF officials remained busy in chalking out a strategy. They have decided to consult a former high court judge, before taking any decision on banning one of country’s most popular teams from the competition.

“As per regulations, the AIFF is not obliged to call an I-League committee meeting to ban Mohun Bagan,” claimed a senior official. “But we don’t want to take a chance… It is always safe to take a legal opinion as that would tell us where exactly we stand,” he added.

The federation is worried that Mohun Bagan, if banned for refusing to play the second half in the I-League tie against East Bengal, may go to court of law to seek justice on the Force Majeure issue.

According to I-League regulations, a participating team would be barred from the league for two years, except in the cases of Force Majeure recognised by the I-League committee. Mohun Bagan said they were forced to withdraw from the match because of the poor law and order situation at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.

“According to the match commissioner’s report, the law and order situation was under control and the match could have been continued,” a federation official said. “A match commissioner’s report is considered final, but we also want to be sure on the legal aspect,” he added.

The match commissioner, Gulab Chauhan, a former Fifa referee himself, said in his report that after Syed Rahim Nabi was injured when a stone thrown from the stands hit him on the face, the police took necessary steps to counter the satiation. He also said that after getting green light from the police, the match was resumed and was played for two minutes till the half time.

Sources also revealed that AIFF president Praful Patel had a discussion on the issue with senior officials. He will have another round of discussions with general secretary Kushal Das and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar. He had asked Das to consider all angles before reaching a decision. Once the AIFF receives a positive legal opinion, an I-League committee meeting would be called to slap a ban on Mohun Bagan. However, a decision on this issue has to be taken before Mohun Bagan’s next I-League match against Pailan Arrows on Saturday.

Meanwhile, East Bengal secretary Kalyan Mazumdar, in an effort which seemed to be intended to calm tempers, said the club would not like to see Bagan being banned for two years: “We do not want to see such a stringent action being taken against them”. But off the record, officials said rules should be enforced.

Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra said that if justice is not done, they will move to Fifa and AFC.