`Band, baajaa, baraat` at Ambedkar Stadium

Bob Houghton rued the lack of a decent football ground in the country, the capital`s Ambedkar Stadium will be hosting a wedding reception.

New Delhi: On a day when Indian football team coach Bob Houghton rued the lack of a decent football ground in the country, the capital`s Ambedkar Stadium will be hosting a wedding reception which will, in all likelihood,
further damage the already deteriorating turf.

"This is nothing now, and we and the people who care about football in the city suffer because of all these functions," said NK Bhatia, general secretary of the Delhi Soccer Association.

It must be mentioned that the stadium is owned by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), and Bhatia said, that is where the problem lies. They treat the ground as their fiefdom, and football is never a priority, leaving the DSA mandarins helpless.

"We can`t do anything. We want to host the I-League matches but because of these function we are not able to maintain the ground," he added.

Ambedkar Stadium is the home ground of AIFF XI, the city-based I-League team, but due to unplayable conditions, their home matches had to be shifted to Gurgaon`s Tau Devi Lal Stadium.

"We have been protesting these functions since 1975 and it still continues," Bhatia lamented.
When contacted, the MCD was vague in its response.

"I am not sure but I think it`s not wedding. It was an official lunch," MCD spokesman Deep Mathur told reporters.

Meanwhile, in Doha with the national team for the AFC Asian Cup, the widely travelled Houghton said India doesn`t boast of a single decent training ground for the footballers.

"In India we do not have one decent training ground, we only have one stadium in the whole of the country that meets the criteria to hold a World Cup qualifier, and that is an athletics stadium in Chennai," Houghton said.

"If you don`t have the infrastructure and the development programmes then you can`t make that step forward," the Briton said hours before India`s opening fixture against Asia number one Australia.

Thanks to the absence of infrastructure and proper training facilities, Indian football have been forced to prepare in Portugal and Dubai.

The MCD later clarified that there was no wedding reception at the stadium but an annual function of MCD Engineers` Forum was held.

"It was a function for which prior permission was taken by the forum. The Mayor also attended the function at the stadium which is our official ground. No wedding was held there," MCD spokesman Mathur said.


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