AIFF to take it slow on Mohun Bagan verdict

A decision regarding the fate of Mohun Bagan was not reached as the Federation have not received an opinion from a retired High Court judge whose counsel they sought

It is a harrowing time if you are a Mohun Bagan fan. The Mariners are under the spotlight after failing to show up for the second half of the abandoned Kolkata Derby on Sunday citing that the safety of players was not ensured. The Derby was marred by scenes of crowd violence after Mohun Bagan`s Odafa Okolie was sent off for misbehaviour towards the referee. The violence saw stones and rocks being thrown towards the pitch, one of which struck Mariners wing-back Syed Rahim Nabi on the temple and had to be rushed to the hospital.

While senior officials, including I-League chief executive officer Sunando Dhar, met federation president Praful Patel to discuss the matter late on Tuesday, sources of The Telegraph said that the federation was yet to get the legal opinion from a retired High Court judge whose counsel the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had sought.
"A retired high court judge was requested to give us an opinion on the subject, especially on the Force Majeure issue. But he is yet to submit his report. Once the report comes, the president will discuss it with other officials before taking a decision," the sources revealed.

The Federation has to take a decision before the Mariners play Pailan Arrows on Saturday, failing which there is a possibility that all of Mohun Bagan`s league matches may get postponed. "The AIFF president has asked us to take all things into consideration before reaching a decision,” said Sunando Dhar. "He does not want any complication to arise out of it in future," he added later.

Though the odds seem firmly in favour of the Green and Maroon being banned, the AIFF expect the Kolkata giants to approach the court of law by pleading that they did not allow their players to return for the second half because of the detoriating law and order conditions in Sunday`s tie.

Mohun Bagan on Tuesday sent a letter to the AIFF along with newspaper and video clippings as well as injured Rahim Nabi`s medical report to justify their decision to withdraw half-way through the match. Their rivals, East Bengal, too have written to the AIFF asking them to declare the fate of the match. The Mariners though have decided not to contest striker Odafa Okolie`s red card which was deemed a factor in the crowd becoming violent.

According to the sources of The Telegraph, officials explained to AIFF president Praful Patel that action against Mohun Bagan must be taken else they would run the risk of setting a bad example.

"The other teams will also start boycotting matches on the same grounds. Then, it will be difficult to take action against them," an official said.

Though the Bagan officials are lobbying hard, Patel is believed to be not too happy with the way they walked out of the match against East Bengal. Their act, Patel felt would have a negative impact on the game. "We have taken a serious note of it. But we will not make a hasty decision as there could be long-term implications. Whatever has happened, will surely have a bad impact on football," Patel told The Telegraph.

Patel went on to say that the issue was serious and would raise questions on the credibility of the venue (Salt Lake Stadium), which is a home ground to three other I-League clubs (Prayag United, Pailan Arrows and East Bengal) and plays host to many international matches.

"There will be a proper hearing and we will try and get full information from all possible quarters before taking any decision. We will take police reports, our local sources reports, media coverage reports into consideration and will also talk to players, match commissioner and the referees," Patel told the The Times of India.


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