| Policemen try to save Port Trust goalkeeper Sandeep Guha from agitated Mohammedan Sporting supporters, who invaded the pitch at the club ground Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: The Indian Football Association (IFA) Friday stuck to its decision of pushing Mohammedan Sporting out of the TVS Fiero IFA Shield, despite protests from the club demanding a replay after intense crowd trouble in their match against Calcutta Port Trust. Mohammedan Sporting had to win to reach the semi-final.
The IFA also stuck to its rather obtuse stand that the venue was “safe” even after the trouble. Association joint-secretary Ranjit Gupta was stubborn in stating that he found “nothing wrong” with the venue, even after Mohammedan Sporting Club secretary Sultan Ahmed said clearly that even he did not think his club was a “safe enough” place for such an important match.
When the crowd broke through the south-west fencing, tearing down the flimsy wire-and-rotting-wood guard, it was clear that there wasn’t even the basic level of security as envisaged by the IFA.
When referee Sarat Chandra Singh refused to allow Abdulateef Seriki and Syed Rahim Nabi a penalty with less than two minutes of injury time play to go, the missiles started pouring in and the spectators broke through soon after. The referee ran, after blowing the long whistle, and later said he had finished the match.
Gupta later said: “The result of the match stands. The referee’s report, endorsed by match commissioner, said that the match was halted through pitch invasion and that he had to blow the whistle to end the match.” Gupta said the referee is within his rights to do so.
The match commissioner was at the East Bengal ground (at the East Bengal-Tollygunge Agragami match), but referees’ inspector D. Dutta of Madhya Pradesh was at the Mohammedan Sporting ground.
With the invasion, Port players ran helter-skelter, mostly towards the Howrah Union tent where they were partly protected by a handful of policemen as missiles rained on it. Goalkeeper Sandeep Guha failed to reach safety in time and was beaten up.
Mounted police personnel, who came in later to throw out the invaders, numbered about 20, but they could come in only later after the gates were opened for them. By then a lot of property at the ground had been damaged and many were nursing injuries.
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