Reports: Kolkata loses El Clasico hosting rights, new venue for mega clash decided
What's the story?
Kolkatans are well-known for their fanaticism when it comes to football; the "City of Joy" stands still on the day of any big football match. While Mohun Bagan and East Bengal always witness fan frenzy at its peak, Kolkata was all set to gear up for a legendary El Clasico match between Real Madrid legends and FC Barcelona legends this September.
The spirits of the Kolkata fans, however, have received a blow after a report in Xtratime confirmed that the venue of the much-awaited match would now be staged in Mumbai instead of the West Bengal capital.
In case you didn't know...
Kolkata is set to be one of the host cities for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in October, as a result of which Salt Lake Stadium is unable to hold the legends El Clasico exhibition match. The city is also the venue for the U-17 World Cup final, which is possibly the biggest match in Indian football history.
The match was then decided to be held at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium that had earlier hosted all of ATK's ISL matches in the 2016-17 season, but logistical issues mean that Kolkata is set to miss out on the legends El Clasico altogether.
The heart of the matter
The match, which is organised by the Football Next Foundation and would bear witness to the likes of Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, Nicolas Anelka, Luis Figo, Carles Puyol and Simao, is being held as a tribute to the late Dutch legend Johan Cruyff. A former Barcelona footballer and manager, Cruyff is considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of football. In an announcement at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu in May this year, Real Madrid legends Isidoro San Jose, Amancio Amaro and Richard Galeo confirmed the match.
Seeing that the greatness of Real Madrid and Barcelona has garnered fans all over the world, football crazy Kolkata was decided upon as the host city. The El Clasico, in Kolkata terms, stands on par with the rivalry between Mohan Bagan and East Bengal, as a result of which, this was one of the city's most awaited matches.
However, due to a number of reasons pertaining to deciding on a venue in the "City of Joy", the organizers had no option but to shift the venue to Mumbai. The match, it is said, will now be held on 15th September in Navi Mumbai at the Andheri Sports Complex. According to sources, IMG-Reliance will be the event's biggest sponsor.
While Kolkata received a saddening blow with this piece of news, the city still has much to look forward to, being a host city for the future talents of the U-17 World Cup this coming October.
For Kolkatans, yes, it is disheartening to not be able to witness the legends showcase their skills live, however, there is always another time. For Indian football fans as a whole, watching these legends strut their stuff on an Indian ground is nothing less than a moment of pride, irrespective of the city involved.