Kolkata: Ending days of speculation, the directors of city football giants East Bengal on Thursday decided not to participate in the Super Cup, joining arch-rivals Mohun Bagan.
“The board of QEBFC (Quess East Bengal Football Club) met today and discussed about the participation in the Super Cup tournament. The East Bengal nominees on the board suggested that since an alliance of clubs has already been formed, it would be unethical for us to come out of the alliance,” East Bengal said in a statement.
“The board also agreed to bid for the Indian Super League (ISL) if the terms are financially acceptable. The East Bengal nominees mentioned that they would convey the decision to the executive committee of the club and discuss further,” the statement read.
The Super Cup is a knockout football tournament run by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) featuring teams from the Indian Super League and I-League. East Bengal, it was learnt, had registered a team to take part in the Super Cup and were supposed to take on ISL side Delhi Dynamos FC on Saturday. But their U-turn means the capital side will get a walkover.
Mohun Bagan did not register a team for the knockout competition, showing solidarity with other revolting I-League clubs, who had formed a union and decided not to take part in the Super Cup due to the unfair treatment meted out by the AIFF towards them.
East Bengal, in an executive committee meeting days ago, had decided to request their investors, Quess, to allow them to take part in the competition as former players and supporters wanted the same.
But Quess, who were always in favour of boycotting the tournament, had the last laugh eventually as both the factions washed their dirty linen in public with club officials previously deciding to field a separate team named East Bengal President’s XI in the Super Cup if Quess decided to boycott the competition.
As many as nine I-League clubs had earlier stated their intention to withdraw from the tournament. Aizawl FC, Gokulam Kerala and Minerva Punjab didn’t take the field for the qualifying rounds, thus handing walkovers to their respective opponents.
AIFF President Praful Patel agreed for a meeting with the clubs thereafter and urged the clubs to take part in the tournament.
Although Real Kashmir then announced their decision to play the Super Cup, the clubs’ union wanted the AIFF to reboot the qualifying rounds if they were to participate, a request that the AIFF denied.