Mumbai: This is uncalled for, how can we go there and play when there is and there are still encounters happening between our jawans and terrorists,” said Ranjit Bajaj, the CEO of Minerva Punjab FC while talking to The Free Press Journal. Minerva Punjab FC have moved to the Delhi High Court for rescheduling of the fixture after Pulwama terror attack cast shadow on their match against Real Kashmir FC in Srinagar in the I-league football.
The defending champions, who are on ninth position in the 11-team league, understand the importance of this match as it is crucial for them to stay alive in this year’s competition. “Yes, this match is crucial as we are down in the points tally, we have 16 points with four matches to go, and even a point matters at this stage,” said Bajaj, who is willing to play the match anywhere in the country but not in Kashmir.
He went on to say that his foreign players have been asked by the respective embassies not to go to Kashmir to play. “My foreign players have been asked by their respective embassies to not go to Kashmir to play football, and there is no possibility for us to go there,” said Bajaj.
This is unfortunate but we have no option other than knock the judiciary doors for justice,” added the CEO, who will go to the court for hearing on Tuesday. I am sure the AIFF have ego problems especially when it comes to my team, I only hope there is justice done.” he stated
Even today, there was a 12-hour encounter where four Armymen have been martyred. And they are saying ‘come and play football here’. Unless the court intervenes, we are not expecting natural justice,” he said. Minerva did not show up for their clash against a ready RKFC in Srinagar on Monday after asserting that the home club and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) failed in providing written security assurances.
East Bengal, on the other hand, conveyed their concerns about the February 28 match to the AIFF but refrained from making an outright pull-out threat. Their clash against RKFC is the last scheduled I-League match in Srinagar. Meanwhile, AIFF has referred the Minerva issue to its League Committee and maintained silence on East Bengal’s concerns.
Sunando Dhar, the I-League CEO, said that the security was not an issue as the local authorities assured them of all the necessary arrangements. “The local security authorities in Srinagar have given a go-ahead to hold the match. The AlFF has assured of all the necessary arrangements for players and officials by the local authorities,” Dhar said.