| Actor John Abraham with the co-owners of North East United Football Club in Guwahati. File picture |
Guwahati, June 23: The Assam Football Association today moved the proposed Indian Super League football tournament promoter Reliance India Ltd and the AIFF, expressing reservations about the naming of the Guwahati franchise as North East United FC and completely ignoring the name of the venue city.
In an email to RIL vice-president Ashu Jindal, AFA secretary Ankur Dutta today sought his intervention in ensuring the inclusion of the name of Guwahati in the team’s name.
Copies of the email have also been marked to the Assam government and AIFF secretary Kushal Das.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Dutta said, “I have raised the fact that the franchise was allotted to Guwahati city and not the entire Northeast. The bidders had done so for the city. All other franchisees who have named their outfits have the names of the respective city in the names.”
“Besides, the Assam government has spent funds to the tune of Rs 12.5 crore to upgrade the infrastructure. If it is a northeastern affair, the remaining seven states should also have contributed to upgrade the infrastructure,” Dutta added.
He said the sentiments of the people of Guwahati as well as Assam were involved in the affair and the fan base, which is vital for the success of the tournament, will comprise more than 80 per cent from Guwahati.
“If the name of Guwahati is ignored, the fans will hardly bother to attach themselves emotionally with the team,” Dutta added.
“I was in Brazil when the franchisee was named on June 10. When I heard about it on my return, I was quite surprised. Had I been there at that time, I would have raised it then and there. Unfortunately, I am told that our president (Hemendra Nath Brahma) and some officebearers of the Guwahati Sports Association were present during the launch ceremony but did not say a word,” Dutta told The Telegraph.
When a section of the media mentioned this before the franchise owners John Abraham and Larsing M. Sawyan during the launch ceremony, the two said their intention in naming the team as North East United FC was to unify the entire region as a unit in football and project it before the rest of the nation as a force to reckon with.
Dutta, however, was not ready to buy the theory and said: “I will continue to fight for the name of the franchise city in the team’s name.”
On Dutta’s email, Sawyan, who was in Bangalore today, refused to comment on it.