Mohun Bagan fans and supporters have been involved in an online battle for several weeks as they hope to preserve their history, legacy and success in the merged entity, ATK Mohun Bagan FC. The merged entity, which will play in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21, has been alleged to have diluted the identity of Mohun Bagan through a sly social media policy.
Fiasco started with hashtags
ATK Mohun Bagan FC started on a positive note as far as the identity of Mohun Bagan was concerned. They retained the logo and colours of the Mariners. However, in the past few weeks, the ATK Mohun Bagan FC social media team was completely ignoring the traditional hashtags and slogans of Mohun Bagan, '#JoyMohunBagan'.
The social media team was also not addressing the fans and the team by their desired nickname 'The Mariners'. The fans tweeted vehemently on the club's social media handle and got them to use the traditional terms to describe the fans and the team. The team has been using both #JoyMohunBagan and Mariners on their social media handles ever since.
Controversy surrounding the sleeve patches on the kits
After days of cordial relations between the fans and the team management, the fiasco resumed as the ATK Mohun Bagan FC management used a patch on their training kits with the mentioned phrase 'Champions 2019-20' with the three stars signifying the three ISL titles won by the erstwhile Kolkata franchise ATKFC. The patch symbolised the non-existence of Mohun Bagan AC's 131-year old history with more than 200 titles including 5 NFL/I-League titles in the recent past.
The Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) continued to use ATK Mohun Bagan as the continuation of ATKFC on their websites, database and club registration pages.
ISL promotional video miffed Mohun Bagan fans
Fans lost patience on social media as the Indian Super League 2020-21 promotional video aimed at the audience in West Bengal was not taken lightly by the Mohun Bagan fans.
The video used the metaphor of clothes being washed in a washing machine to describe the merger. The video was also criticized on the lines that the advertisement failed to recognize the history and legacy of Mohun Bagan and made it appear like both the teams, ATK and Mohun Bagan came into existence six years ago.
Since then the online campaign has taken an intense turn with fans even stepping out of their homes, marching to ATK Mohun Bagan Member of the Board, Sourav Ganguly's home and the Mohun Bagan Ground in Maidan.
The fans are taking banners asking them to withdraw the advertisement and other campaigns. The several hundred Mohun Bagan fans are posting regularly on social media demanding all the necessary changes in the ATK-Mohun Bagan setup. Recognition of Mohun Bagan's historic statistics and trophies, removal of the advertisement and training kit patches are top of the demands of the fans of Mohun Bagan.
Recognizing the active social media campaign, the ATK Mohun Bagan management issued a notice on social media assuring the fans that they have noted the grievances of the fans and are talking with the Indian Super League organisers to make some necessary changes. There have been inside reports regarding the changes in statistical databases to recognize and honour Mohun Bagan's accolades since their foundational year in 1889.
The ATK-Mohun Bagan FC merger is one of a kind in Indian football. The merger is the association of the professional and successful ATKFC management with the history and legacy of Mohun Bagan AC. The management needs to strike a balance on and off the field to avoid the team getting affected on the field. ATK Mohun Bagan FC begin their ISL 2020-21 campaign on November 20 against Kerala Blasters FC.Published 02 Nov 2020, 20:02 IST