125th Durand Cup: Problems at the start of India's oldest tournament
The 125th edition of the Durand Cup will kick-off tomorrow with the qualifiers and the final slated for September 1. But India’s oldest football tournament seems to have lost its former standing within Indian football if one looks at the scheduling and state of the Ambedkar Stadium. The 125th Durand Cup, qualifiers and tournament proper, are being held from August 16 to September 1 in the capital while the 2012 Nehru Cup, on the occasion of the All India Football Federations 75th anniversary, will be held from August 22 to September 2 at the bigger Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. This means that the Durand Cup proper is being held parallel to India’s only international level football tournament.
One has to question the planning of AIFF’s seasonal calendar as we have two tournaments at international and club level at the same time, in the same city with no top level football in the capital for the rest of the season except if the 2nd Division is played there.
Then the Indian Football Association (West Bengal) is starting its local Calcutta Premier Division tomorrow as well meaning that no club from Kolkata will participate in this edition.
And then there is the Ambedkar Stadium ground which got a battering yesterday with the Delhi Police using the venue as a temporary prison for the protesting Baba Ramdev and his supporters, who weren’t just in the stands but rather used the football turf to rest and even cook food. This has left the pitch in a very bad state, but the organisers have no options left.
Published with permission from Arunava Chaudhuri.