New Delhi: Indian football team`s tour of
the West Indies is turning out to be a hugely controversial
one as the first international friendly against Barbados today
was called off after a fuming Armando Colaco protested against
the cold treatment meted out to them by the local organizers.
Colaco was upset that none from the Barbados Football
Association were there at the Bridgetown Airport to receive
the team on their arrival on Monday, sources in the All India
Football Federation said.
The team members were earlier promised visas on arrival
but they had to wait for a few hours before getting them.
There also no help came from the tour sponsors, +One. The
Indian team management also had to arrange a hotel on its own.
Later, BFA officials apologised and took the team to the
its designated hotel, but an upset Colaco was adamant on not
playing the match, sources said.
The AIFF, however, maintained that the match was
cancelled since the players were tired after a 23-hour long
journey. Colaco felt that the change in travel schedule due to
London riots left the players too tired to take the field.
"Due to some unfortunate logistical reasons caused by the
sudden change in the travel schedule because of the problems
in London, India`s first international friendly against
Barbados in stands cancelled to avoid undue physical strain
and hardship to the players after their long flight," the AIFF
said in a statement.
"The national coach after consultation with the All India
Football Federation general secretary, the national team
director and the Barbados Football Association decided under
the circumstances that the match may result in unnecessary
injuries or health problems for the players," the statement
"The AIFF is very conscious that players should not get
injured prior to the beginning of the new domestic season and
therefore in the best interest of the players and the clubs,
found it prudent to cancel the match against Barbados."
The next two matches -- against Trinidad and Tobago
(August 21) and Guyana (August 24) -- will be played as per
the schedule, the statement said.
In the lead-up to the Caribbean tour, the AIFF had a
tough time in convincing the clubs to release their players.
In fact, there has been confusion all around the tour and
the AIFF cannot escape from criticism. Initially, the AIFF
said the match would be against Barbados and later issued a
release just before the team`s departure that India will play
against St Kitts and Nevis.
The London riots then led to the delay of the team`s
departure by a day, and finally, the alleged cold hospitality
by Barbados Football Association completed the circle.