What's the Story
East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are two of the fiercest rivals in the history of Indian football. This famous rivalry dates as far back as 1921! Fast-forward to September 24th, an ugly scene played out.
Video footage showed Bagan players Shilton Paul and Kinshuk Debnath roughing up referee Ranjit Bakshi. Even senior official Debasish Dutta was dragged into the conflict. The two players have been penalised but oddly enough, travelled with the team for their opening I-League fixture away at Minerva Punjab.
In Case You Didn't Know
Match referee Ranjit Bakshi had awarded a penalty in East Bengal's favour in the Calcutta Football League match, earlier this year. The Mohun Bagan players and staff didn't take too kindly to the decision and fiercely protested. Although they were fined and bans were imposed on the players and the official, the Green and Maroons have taken them with their squad to the Minerva game.
The Heart of the Matter
Goalkeeper Shilton copped a fine of Rs 2 lakh and Debnath had to pay Rs 1 lakh. Both the footballers were made to apologise to IFA before being allowed to play again. Unfortunately for them, Shilton and Debnath only wrote the apology and failed to pay the fine.
IFA secretary Utpal Ganguly allowed both the footballers to play against Minerva Punjab FC following a meeting with Mohun Bagan officials, according to sources. On the behest of the Bagan officials, Ganguly is said to have changed his mind.
With the I-League starting in a couple of days, Mohun Bagan need to put this saga behind them and focus on the upcoming match against Minerva. Bagan will face East Bengal on the 3rd of December hopefully under calmer circumstances. But knowing our luck and the historic rivalry between the two clubs, the clash will be anything but calm.
What Shilton Paul and Kinshuk Debnath did was unsportsmanlike, but what was even more disappointing for sport, in general, was the attitude towards to incident. What they received was a light rap on the wrists, when they deserved more.