ISL 2018-19: Sit down! And no peeing! - The many problems haunting Delhi Dynamos fans at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
Down there, you notice your team's players breaking on the counter. It's now or never, you think. Your hands are shaking at this point as a couple of players join the move and the action shifts to the box area. The cola you were struggling to get a hold of starts dripping and you squeeze that Kati Roll you have in your other hand tighter. The excitement is building and this is what commentators generally refer to as the moment that brings you to the edge of your seats.
If you are a fan watching a game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, you have to remain at the edge of your seats as you are apparently not allowed to stand up or move further.
The Indian Super League season for the Delhi Dynamos is not going as planned. While the team is yet to register a victory this season, their fans too are struggling to win an argument with the security staff of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi.
After yet another defeat, this time at the hands of Mumbai City FC on Monday, several fans alleged that the security personnel were forcing them to sit down and cheer for the team. No standing. Okay, you are allowed to clap. Only if you sit down and bring your hands together in a decent manner. This, for an exciting match of football that had six goals in it.
The number of goals is beside the point here. Even if the match was a dull one, like the three goalless encounters we witnessed last week, the bigger question is whether a bunch of staff at the stadium - tasked with ensuring the match goes on peacefully - can dictate how fans should cheer their team?
Surely not. No idea what kind of excitement levels those security staff in Delhi are used to, but curbing those emotions is not how global football works.
To give you a brief idea of how fan involvement works, let's consider the extreme case. Officials were forced to shift the Copa Libertadores final between Boca Juniors and River Plate shift from Argentina to Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid because of uncontainable fan violence for the second leg. Throwing flares, bottles and getting into fist fights are common scenes in European football and you might think that in India we at least don't have all that.
What do we have instead?
'Eh chup baith.' (Shut up and sit)
One fan on Twitter, Hemang Doshi, says security at the stadium retorted that the chairs are meant for people to sit on them and that he won't allow anyone to stand under his watch.
Hemang went on to question the ISL's biggest marketing campaign this season - #FanBannaPadega - in which Ranbir Kapoor, associated with Mumbai, tells people that Indian football is missing the fans' love and that is why all of us must right away start supporting teams passionately. Hemang says the kind of rules laid down by the security staff will only generate spectators for the game and not real fans.
So you sit down because the scary looking guy with the biceps is telling you so. You silently sip your cola, pretend to have a good time as the club-employed musicians create a sort of jolly atmosphere with their dhols and end up finishing the soda.
Now, you need to relieve yourself as the tank is full. You take permission from the friendly bouncer to go to the loo and think about the time in primary school that you had to seek permission every time you wanted to go to the washroom and finally make a dash for it. Lest it leak.
Damn. You are on the verge and find out that all the toilets in your floor - the home section of the non-VIP stands - are closed.
If a fan has to use the washroom, he has to go all the way down - about a 200-metre walk after that - from his seating section and miss almost 10 minutes of the game.
For some reason, the Sports Authority of India (SAI), the custodians of the JN Stadium, found it best to shut all toilets on the second floor of the stadium, adding to the inconvenience a fan has to face while watching a game at the JN Stadium.
As if the display by the Delhi Dynamos wasn't horrifying enough.
Delhi Dynamos director Rohan Sharma washed off his hands from the situation by saying the team doesn't employ bouncers, Delhi Police does.
"They aren't our bouncers, they work with Delhi Police. No one from DDFC in management wants to hassle fans or stop you guys from having a good time. Since security wears accreditations please note their names next time and send it to me, so we can lodge a complaint," Sharma said on Twitter.
When asked why Delhi Dynamos didn't write to SAI to ensure that all toilets are open for spectators, a team officer replied that Sharma wasn't at the stadium for the match against Mumbai City and doesn't know about the situation.
Well, when you do get to know about all of this, act on it immediately or you will risk losing the fans you have. One group, Dynamos Ultras, already have their banner upside down thinking it will reflect Delhi on top of the table at least that way. And the Mumbai City game was the last home match for Dynamos this year.
Also, ask SAI the keys to all the toilets on match-days.