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Calcutta clubs must punish indisciplined players

Barely a week later, East Bengal also showed that they too weren’t very good at controlling their players’ anger. Frustrated after their first defeat in the I-League, when they lost 0-1 to Prayag United, the red and gold brigade’s Nigerian defender Uga Okpara simply lost his cool. Also to join in the brawl was his countrymate, Bello Rassaq in the Prayag team.

Nigerian players in the past have been known to be hot-headed and a bit unruly. Chima Okorie in his initial days, when he strode into the limelight as a young and brash striker in the mid-80s, was also a temperamental player. He calmed down much later when he grew in experience. African players have always this habit of getting involved in some controversy or the other.

The photographs of the incident which have been published in the Calcutta media too speaks a lot about the seriousness of the brawl. From the pictures, one can see Ranti Martins (who scored the match-winner) and East Bengal’s Alvito D’Cunha attempting to calm down Okpara, and restrain him from throwing his fist at Rassaq, who got a minor injury on his upper lip.

Isn’t it the All India Football Federation (AIFF) been a little soft on such cases? All the I-League committee can do is to wait for the match commissioner’s report.

Are we deliberately turning our football pitches into a battle place for some short-tempered players to sort out their personal grudge and tiffs?

I’m not sure when the Calcutta clubs will learn. The live telecasts of world’s top leagues and championships are good enough to educate our egoistic clubs and their players who don’t really care about the club they are representing.

From my experience, I’ve not seen any foreign players who played in Calcutta who resorted to such fights with their co-players or against their opponents. Iranian legend Majid Bishkar was a thorough gentleman, whose camaraderie was always appreciated. The case was similar for his compatriot Jamshed Nasirri. Even the recently retired Mohun Bagan striker Jose Ramirez Barreto never got involved into such stupid scuffles, even with his fellow players. Barreto has been the best disciplined player to have played for a Calcutta club in recent years.

It won’t be surprising to see both Prayag and East Bengal defend their respective players. However, what’s happening in Calcutta doesn’t augur well for the clubs.

Having already earned negative comments from around the globe after they refused to play the second half of the I-League derby against East Bengal, Bagan, instead of respecting the I-League, moved to the courtroom soon after the AIFF made it clear that the Mariners would be banned for two years.

Last week, I wrote that if club move to court, the game would get entangled into protracted legal battles, and that’s exactly what has happened.

Bagan took legal recourse and put its case to the City Civil Court in Calcutta, which passed an interim order restraining AIFF from taking any decision without hearing the club.

As expected, the national federation also took a step towards a legal battle with one of Asia’s oldest clubs when they appointed former Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly to evaluate all aspects of the abandoned match in accordance with I-League regulations 2012-13.

Bagan, East Bengal and Prayag are considered to be the best teams from India’s football capital. But their egoistic officials have almost damaged Calcutta’s reputation as a sober and sporting city.

Some Bagan fans even posted comments in favour of ‘Prayag’ on Facebook during the East Bengal-Prayag match on Sunday. I’m sure East Bengal’s defeat gave them some sort of consolation.

I wouldn’t say they are passionate. They may love their teams, but they’ve taken their fanaticism to a hysterical level, which only foments trouble and is unacceptable. Instead of taking stern disciplinary actions against their erring, indisciplined players, Prayag and East Bengal’s soft approach has further tarnished Calcutta’s football image.

This is what makes it so embarrassing for the city.

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