With their Round-of-16 clash against Delhi Dynamos in the 2018-19 Super Cup scheduled for Saturday evening, East Bengal have confirmed that they would not be participating in the tournament, in solidarity with the alliance of I-League clubs, who are protesting against the AIFF.
Their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, who were to face Bengaluru FC in the Round of 16 on Sunday, will also not play as they have not registered their squad for the Super Cup tournament at all.
Earlier, all I-League clubs, apart from the Indian Arrows (which is a team floated by the AIFF themselves), had pulled out of the Super Cup, demanding that Praful Patel, the AIFF President meet with them and address their concerns for a roadmap for Indian Football.
Last week, AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das had responded to the I-League clubs, saying that Patel would meet with them on a date between the 10th and 15th of April, and urged them to confirm their participation in the Super Cup.
In response, the I-League clubs demanded that the AIFF restart the tournament from the qualifying stage itself, where only one game out of four actually happened, with Minerva Punjab FC, Gokulam Kerala FC and Aizawl FC not taking the field.
The AIFF rejected the demand to replay the qualifying stages, claiming it would be unfair on the ISL teams (FC Pune City, Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin FC) who had turned up at the venue in anticipation of the match happening.
All the I-League teams, barring Mohun Bagan, then proceeded to register their squads for the tournament, but it has now emerged that East Bengal will not participate in the tournament.
On Thursday, East Bengal held a board meeting, with club representatives and members of the board of QUESS, their chief investor, being present.
While the club representatives wished that the Red and Gold Brigade sent a team to the Super Cup, QUESS were firmly of the view that East Bengal should stick to the I-League alliance and not play in the competition.
The Kolkata giants were finalists last year, losing 4-1 to Bengaluru FC on the big day, after they'd been brought down to ten men with Samad Ali Mallick's red card.
East Bengal's withdrawal now means that Delhi Dynamos will go through, and face the winner of the game between ATK and Real Kashmir in the quarterfinal on the 5th of April.Published 30 Mar 2019, 17:31 IST