The Telegraph
Monday , January 14 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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AIFF divided over Bagan

New Delhi: Two days before the crucial All India Football Federation (AIFF) meeting here to decide Mohun Bagan’s fate in the I-League, the executive committee members seem to be singing different tunes.

While one section feels that all matters should be decided strictly as per the regulations, Bagan, too, could hope to find some sympathisers in the meeting room.

AIFF vice-president and Dempo Sports Club chairman Srinivas Dempo has openly called the two-year ban a “harsh” decision. “The ban is effectively for four years… That’s too hard,” he said.

Another vice-president and Shillong Lajong general secretary Larsing Ming felt that it would be a shame to have a league without Bagan. He said that if any rule has been broken, someone in the club then should be made to pay for it.

However, an entirely different observation came from an executive member, who did not wish to be named.

“I have little sympathy for Mohun Bagan. But the issue should not be used to settle personal scores. Some undesirable backroom politics is going on for reasons not exactly related to the game.”

Given the I-League regulations, Bagan have no room to return to the competition before the 2015-16 season. That, too, in the second division. The justice A.K. Ganguly Commission report also said that the green-and-maroon brigade should by no means be allowed to take shelter behind the Force Majeure clause.

Ironically, Justice Ganguly also advised the AIFF to consider Bagan’s contribution to Indian football and its large support base before reaching to any decision.

“May I hope that as the parent body, AIFF will take a holistic view in taking its decision and will act in such a manner as it will further not frustrate the interest of the popular game.”

But then, Bagan can still hope to get away as AIFF itself is not very consistent in abiding by the rules.

When a state association was caught red-handed for fielding players with false names in a junior national event, its secretary was made the executive member. When a national coach defied the federation and refused to field the team during a foreign tour, he was recommended for the prestigious Dronacharya award.

“In the meeting, the biggest enemy of Mohun Bagan would be their bad boy image over the years,” said another executive member. “No one questions Mohun Bagan’s credentials as a team, but its management needs to stop thinking themselves above all rules.”