Calcutta: Drama over, it’s time for the dialogues.
After Monday saw Kingfisher East Bengal finally hand over the ‘token’ to Tolgay Ozebe, Tuesday was always meant to unfold the pent-up frustration of the Australian striker… And yes, McDowell Mohun Bagan, too, were expected to come out all guns blazing.
The day’s events stayed true to the script. First, Tolgay ‘officially’ signed for Bagan, and then, at a media conference, his verbal volleys were as crisp as his sniper skills in front of the goal.
Criticising the Indian Football Association (IFA), Tolgay said that ‘things’ were imposed on him and he was left with no other option but to accept the situation.
“Things (the fines and apology to East Bengal) were kind of imposed on me... I had no other option but to accept them… I wanted to play Wednesday’s All Airlines Gold Cup semi-final match against George Telegraph and so that was the only option I had,” Tolgay said.
And that’s not all… Tolgay, who had so far restrained himself from giving any comments to the media, was straightforward in terming the fines imposed on him by the IFA as “unfair”. The Australian did not spare East Bengal, his former club, as well.
“I am relieved that I can finally play… But personally, I think the fines were unfair... I could have gone to the Fifa and easily won, but then, the matter would have just got dragged on… So I accepted the situation… In fact, I am glad that my money, and not East Bengal’s, will go to the development of nursery football,” Tolgay said.
Questioning the prevalent ‘token’ system that is endorsed by the IFA, Tolgay made a point when he said that foreign players often do not understand the ‘significance’ of the tokens. He urged the IFA and the clubs to brief the overseas players properly about the system. “Even the Fifa rules don’t have any mention about tokens... I would request both the IFA and the clubs to notify foreign players about this token system… I would never want other foreign players to suffer like I did,” Tolgay said.
Defending his end-of-the-season decision to hold his media conference with Bagan on the day East Bengal won the 2011-12 CFL, Tolgay said: “My contract with East Bengal ended right after the last game of the season, so I don’t think I did anything wrong... If anyone wants to complain about it, they can do so, but I don’t care... My focus is only on Mohun Bagan now.
“What has happened, has happened... I don’t want to look back. For me, all matches in the Bagan jersey are of immense importance… I just can’t wait to play my first match for the club,” he added.
With Tolgay speaking his mind, Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra, too, was in an aggressive mode. Blasting AIFF and IFA vice-president Subrata Dutta for influencing IFA general secretary Utpal Ganguli in delaying the Tolgay issue, Mitra said: “We have had sleepless nights dealing with this issue… Dutta should be blamed for the delay because I am convinced that he threatened the IFA general secretary and didn’t allow him to give a verdict.”