Pull-out was an over-reaction - Indian official

Mumbai: Blackburn Rovers` last-minute postponement of their tour of India due to safety concerns was an over-reaction, a senior Indian soccer official said on Tuesday.

Last Wednesday`s three near-simultaneous bomb blasts during the evening rush hour in Mumbai, which killed 20 people, prompted the Premier League club to put off the tour for the moment.

"It`s very disappointing. It`s a global problem. Blasts can happen in every country in the world," All-India Football Federation of India (AIFF) senior vice-president Subrata Dutta said.

"I heard they are going to come back to India later. I wonder how the problems that are present now will not be there then."

Blackburn, owned by Indian poultry giants Venky`s, would have become the first English Premier League club to tour the country and were scheduled to play a friendly in Pune, about 200km from Mumbai, where Venky`s is based.

Dutta said Blackburn`s decision would have no bearing on international teams planning to tour India in the future.

"It`s not going to have any impact. I have never heard of terrorism activities around soccer. It involves lot of passion," he said.

"Football creates a bond between disputing nations."

Argentina will take on Venezuela in an international friendly in Kolkata on Sept. 2 and organisers are confident the match will go ahead.

"We haven`t heard of any problems yet. If they had any concerns, we would have known by now," said Bhaswar Goswami, executive director of the company organising the event.

The owners, who till late Tuesday were confident of the three-day tour going ahead, blamed the decision on a last-minute travel advisory from the British government for the decision.

"It is very unfortunate that the Blackburn Rovers team has had to postpone its tour of India owing to the non-clearance of security issues by the Scotland Yard and the British administration," Venky`s director Balaji Rao said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The travel advisory issued against travel to India has also forced the Premier League to dissuade the club to postpone its trip till further notice.

"However, this is only a postponement. Venky`s Group is committed to bring Blackburn Rovers to its second home in India and in building a strong relationship with the football-loving youth of this country.

"The Club is planning a tour of the country in the first week of October, the dates for which will be announced in due time."

Blackburn, who last won the Premier League in 1995, will now travel directly to Hong Kong for a four-nation tournament, also involving Chelsea and Aston Villa.

Bureau Report

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