Kolkata: Mohun Bagan have decided to not play any part in the remainder of the Calcutta Football League (CFL) after deciding to take their team off the playing field in added time in an encounter against Tollygunge Agragami at the Mohun Bagan ground.
The match was paralysed at 1-1 when youngster Azharuddin Mallick looked to have put his side up with a goal scored in added time, but the linesman had his flag up for an offside. That was the cue for all hell breaking loose as club officials entered the field and supporters started pelting missiles. The club management decided immediately to withdraw the players and announced that they would be boycotting the CFL to protest against the refereeing, alleging that the three goals they had disallowed on the day were contentious. The Mariners thought that they had scored in the seventh minute itself when new recruit Daniel Bidemi found the back of the net but the linesman had ruled offside, correctly we might add.
In the 21st minute, the home side were finally in the driver’s seat when Pankaj Moula found Prabir Das with a deft pass and the latter’s cross took the goalkeeper completely by surprise who saw it sail into the net. After a tame first half, Mohun Bagan were denied another opportunity when Darryl Duffy scored off an Azharuddin cross from the left, but was signalled to be offside on the hour mark. The away side took advantage of all the lapses, as Alfred Jaryan let loose a belter from the edge of the box to beat Arnab Das Sharma all ends out to make it 1-1 in the 84th minute.
It was however Duffy’s cross which Azhar poked inside in injury time which sparked all the outrage as the linesman put his flag up for the third time in the match, which saw the fans going berserk in the stands followed by the team management rushing into the field themselves to register their protest. As Mohun Bagan decided to take their players off the ground and refused to complete the match with two minutes remaining to be played, the match commissioner had to eventually call it off with the worsening situation which involved clashes between the supporters and law enforcement.
“In this condition the referee decided that the match could not be continued and I waited for around thirty minutes before calling it off,” said Udayan Halder, the match commissioner for the day.
“We don’t want to play the match any more. We are withdrawing the team in protest of this one-sided refereeing,” said club president, Swapan Sadhan Bose as he led the team out.
However club secretary Anjan Mitra was far more mellowed as he said that the Federation Cup winners had written to the Indian Football Association (IFA) urging for a replay of the match and asked them not to schedule any matches for the team before the replay decision was taken. They would only then decide to continue participating in the CFL.
“If the IFA does give us any matches before deciding on the replay, then we will decide whether to boycott those matches,” Mitra added, with a cautionary tone.
The IFA will indeed be the losers in this tussle as they had recently agreed on Mohun Bagan participating in the derby encounters this season with the venues too being decided. The loss of gate receipts from those will indeed be a body blow to the coffers of the association who are anyway reeling from the lack of sponsors. It remains to be seen thus whether they cave into the pressure and nullify what was essentially on-field decisions, whether right or wrong.
For the time being though football in Kolkata continues to live upto the reputation of violence and lawlessness where the big guns do whatever they please while eluding the quality football it was once reputed for.