So the Salt Lake stadium will host the IPL 2013 opening ceremony come 2nd April. Why a cricketing concert at a football stadium, you would ask? Why not the Eden Gardens? To protect the Eden pitch of course! And what about the pitch at Salt Lake stadium? Let’s not be naïve here. If the football grounds in the country did reserve thought from the officials, we wouldn’t still be in the stone age of footballing development! What pains me most is to see my beloved Yuvabharati Krirangan being treated this way.
I remember reading the news and wondering how the officials could even approve of this. And then it dawned upon me – the IPL makers have enough money to topple governments, surely they can convince a few officials! When money talks, righteousness turns a blind eye. And why should they refrain from shelling out the cash? Yuvabharati has the highest capacity any stadium in India can offer, and the IPL is the most awaited cricketing event in the country, which means the opening ceremony is easily going to generate enough cash to swim in!
The only positives I can gather from the news are that the flood lights at Salt Lake stadium will be burning bright again! It has been a long wait since November 2011 and a lot of matches under the sun. Incidentally, the officials are planning to inaugurate the new lights at the IFA Shield semi-final, which happens to be a Kolkata derby. So, a stadium with recent history of light failure will host the biggest match in Indian club football under untested lights. Boy, do they need some cash! The other positive is a big crowd, which also means big bucks. A portion of the money must surely go to the stadium. And that money might be used to better the infrastructure at the stadium. Happy, almost-realistic thoughts.
There’s one other thing though. What of the I-League matches scheduled during the period? They’ll be played at the not-so-unknown-anymore Kalyani Stadium. Not that there’s much wrong with the Kalyani Stadium. It’s just 63 kilometres away from Kolkata, has less capacity, and an open stand. Sure, why not make the two most decorated clubs of Indian football play away from home?
Cricket lovers must be brimming with ecstasy. The opening ceremony of their favourite sporting extravaganza, promoted by Shahrukh Khan’s very own production house, and that too at the biggest stadium in the country! The turn of events are disgraceful! It’s disrespectful towards the stadium, and it’s disrespectful towards Indian football in general. Sadly, there’s no point cribbing as our grievances have fallen on deaf ears for many a year now.
The least that I can do being an Indian football faithful is to hope that 2nd April will see the last of the embarrassments handed out to Indian football. Although at this point of time, there’s very little that the sport can throw to really surprise me anymore. My next bet is on Shahrukh Khan throwing a birthday bash at Salt Lake stadium!