Tuesday, June 18, 2024

40 injured in Bagan-EB derby violence


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Kolkata: A wave of violence engulfed the gigantic Yuva Bharati Krirangan here on Sunday, forcing the marquee I-League clash between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to be called off, besides leaving 40 injured.

The Mohun Bagan team walked off the pitch after one of its key players, Syed Rahim Nabi was targetted by East Bengal fans who hurled a stone at his face.

Nabi sustained a fracture in between the jaw and his right ear and needed four stitches, in what emerged as one of the darkest days of Indian football.

The incident happened at the interval, a couple of minutes after Harmanjot Khabra headed in to put East Bengal ahead from a Mehtab Hossain freekick. Mohun Bagan did not turn up in the second half, confining themselves to the dressing room.

Mohun Bagan might have to face stringent punishment including suspension up to three years as per AIFF Clause 22, said I-League CEO Sunando Dhar, who was present at the match.

“As per the clause, Mohun Bagan could face suspension for the next three years for refusing to play after having played till half time. Clause 22 of AIFF states if a team withdraws in the middle of the match, they will be suspended from the I-League for the current season and the following two seasons unless it is dubbed a force majeure,” Dhar said.

“According to FIFA rule if a missile of any kind lands on the ground or if a player is injured, then a team has every right to walk off. However, Mohun Bagan played out the stoppage time in the first half after a missile hit Rahim Nabi.”

He further said the tournament committee will meet soon to decide the fate of the match.

The AIFF executive committee will then take a final decision on the recommendations of the tournament committee.

With about one lakh in attendance for the Kolkata derby, all hell broke loose in the Mohun Bagan stands after their star player Odafa Okolie was red-carded in the two minutes after conceding the goal.

It was Nirmal Chhetri who fouled East Bengal’s Khabra as the referee warned the Mohun Bagan defender.

Miffed at the decision, a charged up Mohun Bagan captain Odafa arrived at the scene and began arguing with the referee.

The highly charged game snowballed into madness soon after as missles – from bottles, stones to window panes – started flying in thick and fast from the stands, one of them hitting Nabi. Play was then held up for about 15 minutes.

During the break, a Mohun Bagan official told the Match Commissioner Gulab Chauhan that they would not not take the field fearing security concerns.

Chauhan even went in person to request the Green and Maroons to turn up, but Mohun Bagan remained adamant. As the news of Nabi’s injury spread the crowd resorted to violence.

This is the first time in a history spanning 87 years and 302 matches that a tie had to be cancelled between the two rivals.

There have been many incidents during the Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derby but August 16, 1980 remains the darkest day in history when 16 supporters were killed in a stampede after a league match at Eden Gardens. (PTI)


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