Kolkata: Members of the East Bengal team and prominent names in India colours travelled in a General Compartment of Jan Shatabdi Express after exiting from the Fed Cup in Cuttack. The three players Arnab Mondal, Narayan Das and Mehtab Hossain were returning home to Kolkata after participating in the tournament, where they lost to 0-2 to Mohun Bagan in the semi-finals, and due to the rush in commitments, opted to return by train.
According to team manager and former India defender Manoranjan Bhattacharya, they had arranged a bus after finding that all flights were full. But former and current India players Mondal, Das, Mohmmad Rafique, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury and goalkeeping coach Abhijit Mondal chose to take the train instead.
“One cannot book tickets in advance because you don’t know the result beforehand. We arranged a bus at the last minute but had to cancel eventually because some of them went on their own,” Bhattacharya said.
“They are not to be blamed. We requested the assistant coach to let us go, as we had office games. But all flights were full. We were offered to go by a bus but it could take around 12 hours to reach Kolkata. So, we decided to take the morning train,” said Mehtab. The rest of the team travelled by private vehicles.
“The club is in no way responsible for this. We will talk to the players and find out why they did this. Should we not get satisfactory explanations, we could even take action for breach of discipline,” Debabrata Sarkar, an East Bengal executive committee member, was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times. “We had arranged for an air-conditioned bus and SUVs for the team to travel from Cuttack. Those who stayed back availed of this and returned to Kolkata,” he added.
Some fans shared pictures of players travelling by train on social media which didn’t please the club one bit as their reputation came into disrepute.