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AIFF wants review of Mohun Bagan’s decision on Super Cup no-show

Jaydeep Basu

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Mohun Bagan were among seven I-League clubs to pull out of the Super Cup. Photos: Google and www.supercup.in

The AIFF has moved to its appeal committee against a decision of its disciplinary committee to exempt Mohun Bagan from punishment for not playing the Super Cup

New Delhi: India’s law minister has recently been quoted as saying that the judiciary should stop treating the law ministry like a “post office”. It did create some discomfort at certain levels, but the idea seems to have hit the All India Football Federation (AIFF) well.

According to sources, the federation has decided to move to its own appeal committee against a decision of its disciplinary committee to leave out Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan while slapping fines on six other outfits for not playing the Super Cup in March-April.

Both the committees are part of several sub-committees of the federation, constituted in December 2016 as per the AIFF’s constitution. The committees are packed and headed by prominent and well-known lawyers.

“It may be unprecendented but true,” confirmed a senior official of the federation. “The parent body does not fully agree with the decision of the disciplinary committee. Like others, it too holds the right to approach the appeal committee. The date of conveying the appeal committee will soon be finalised,” he said.

It is now to be seen what the disciplinary committee, headed by advocate UN Banerjee, had to say on Mohun Bagan’s non-participation in Super Cup, a tournament virtually run and controlled by federation’s all-powerful marketing partners.

While imposing a fine of Rs. 10 lakh each on Aizawl FC, Minerva FC, Churchill Brothers, Gokulam FC and Neroca FC and Rs. five lakh on East Bengal, the committee said the issue of Mohun Bagan’s “non-participation” should be referred to arbitration since it was in no position to take a decision.

Devoid of I-League clubs, the Super Cup was largely played in front of empty stands.

Mohun Bagan, on their part, pointed out that the club did not “withdraw” from the Super Cup but was prevented by overwhelming circumstances beyond the control to enter the tournament.

The club also said that they did not enter the tournament at all, so the question of withdrawal or playing damages do not arise.

The disciplinary committee, in its report dated May 15, observed: “Therefore the preliminary issue of jurisdiction and authority of the committee, as raised by the club is answered in favour of Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Limited….”

The committee also said: “In the sequitur, the reference to the Disciplinary Committee as mentioned heretofore, is disposed of with the observation that the Disciplinary Committee could not resolve the dispute and the All India Football Federation may refer the entire subject issue to Arbitration….”

It is now bit of a mystery why the AIFF officials decided to approach its appeal committee instead of opting for arbitration as advised by the disciplinary committee.

Sport has transformed into a ‘business’, rather than ‘sport’ – AIFF’s disciplinary committee, in its report related to Mohun Bagan, noted

Sources in the federation said the move was initiated at the insistence of its marketing partners, who were believed to be unhappy with the way the two Kolkata teams were let off by the disciplinary committee.

“Last month, a meeting of the AIFF Emergency Committee was held at the residence of federation president Praful Patel. There the issue of Super Cup withdrawal was discussed and members were briefed about the objections raised by the marketing partners.

“It was informed the marketing partners were clearly upset by the way Super Cup in Bhubaneswar turned out to be a complete flop because of I-League clubs,” the source said.

FC Goa beat Chennaiyin 2-1 in the final to win the 2018-19 Super Cup.

Whatever the AIFF officials have to say, it is definitely yet another attempt by a power lobby within the federation to push the I-league clubs’ back to the wall and reduce the I-League to obscurity.

The disciplinary committee, in its report related to Mohun Bagan, had an important thing to say. It said: “Sport has transformed into a ‘business’, rather than ‘sport’.

“While it is true the financial support is necessary, but the same cannot dominate over sporting necessities. Promotion of sport does not mean destroying the same by asserting commercial rights or interests.”