I-League 2017/18: East Bengal want foreign referees, observers' panel for Minerva Punjab game
Eyeing their maiden I-League crown, a wary East Bengal today shot off a letter to the AIFF, seeking a panel of observers and foreign referees for their potential title-deciding clash at Minerva Punjab on February 13.
The Punjab outfit is six points clear of third-placed East Bengal to lead the standings with five matches to go.
"The match will possibly decide the eventual winners of the I-League 2017-18. However, there are certainly serious concerns for all East Bengal supporters, members, officials," East Bengal secretary Kalyan Majumdar wrote in his letter addressed to AIFF secretary Kushal Das.
"A panel of two or more additional AIFF match observers and referee assessors should be appointed for this crucial game to ensure that the game is conducted in a fair manner.
"Such panel can comprise of ex-Indian players who are experienced and have played similar crunch matches in the past."
Majumdar further said they have been at the "receiving end of several questionable decisions" earlier and asked for a foreign referee for the "special" match.
"There are possibilities that such situations may occur on February 13. We fear that an Indian referee may be subjected to stress which will impair his ability to conduct the game in an unbiased manner.
"We would sincerely appreciate if the match is conducted by a reputed team of referee and assistant referees of foreign origin keeping the best interest of the game in mind."
Pointing out the claims of match-fixing by Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj, he further asked AIFF to find out the veracity of the allegations and take necessary action.
"His (Ranjit Bajaj) allegations are very serious in nature if found to be true. However, if they are baseless and false, then he and the other concerned should be seriously reprimanded or suspended," he wrote, citing the example of their captain Arnab Mondal's 'racial discrimination' case.
"AIFF had acted with surprising alacrity against him which resulted in his suspension and penalty.
"AIFF should ensure that the pre-match environment is ambient and conducive for a fair match and the game is played in true spirit and competition