The Delhi Soccer Association’s (DSA) troubles just do not seem to cease. Only four months into Subash Chopra’s reign as the president, the DSA has already come under fire for delaying the start of the Super League and now finds itself embroiled in yet another controversy.
On Sunday, the New Delhi Heroes became the third team to withdraw from the Super League and now DSA suddenly finds itself conducting the premier football league in the city with only eight teams. So much for ‘Vision Delhi’.
The Heroes’ withdrawal follows that of Moonlight Club - who pulled out before playing a single match in the preliminary stages - and Shastri Club, who pulled out before the start of the Super League.
While Moonlight cited ‘technical’ problems for their withdrawal, injuries to a number of key players in the off-season caused the Shastri pullout.
“The League was delayed and that created a problem for us to stitch together a team,” Moonlight official and DSA treasurer Syed Sahin said.
“What can we say about Delhi football? There’s no proper calendar, there’s no home ground for the Delhi team. I think we should have a proper calendar, at least a tentative one, which will help teams get their best possible line-ups before the season starts.”
The Heroes, meanwhile, had played two matches in the Super League — and lost both — before opting to pull out. Speaking to HT, club secretary Kishen Kumar blamed their withdrawal on ‘sub-standard refereeing’.
“In both matches, the referees were against us, they were biased and seemed hell-bent on awarding decisions against us,” he said. “In our first match against IAF XI, the referee turned down a clear-cut penalty.”
After losing that match 1-4, the Heroes’ next match was against Garhwal Heroes on January 26, a match they lost 0-1. Kishen insisted that that time around, they were “given a torrid time of it by the referee”.
“The referee — Jaikishore — blew for a foul against one of our players when there was none. When asked what the grounds for the foul were, he sent off the player doing the asking,” said Kishen. He was even more scathing.
“Since such novices, who can’t call a match impartially, are officiating the Super League, the New Delhi Heroes have decided to withdraw from the league with immediate effect.”
So would there be no rethink on this withdrawal? “Absolutely not. We had a match on Sunday but we didn’t play. We are not going to play in this farcical league any longer,” he added.
The man in the middle of the entire controversy, referee Jaikishen however, stood his ground, saying he had called the game as it was. “I stopped play after a New Delhi player had pulled an opposition jersey. No sooner had I done that than this New Delhi defender, Sanjay Sidhu, suddenly ran some 40 metres from defence and started arguing,” Jaikishen said.
“I brandished a yellow card to Sidhu for questioning the referee’s decision but he just didn’t stop, he added. “He started using abusive language and even raised his arm at me. I didn’t have any option but to send him off. How is this construed as bias?”
A rather unfortunate fallout of the pullout is the future of the players involved. “I agree there was bad refereeing but I think withdrawing is no solution,” said Nitin Pant, a New Delhi Hero player.
With off-field action being much more entertaining and attracting all the attention, the Super League seems to have been reduced to yet another ‘also-ran’ in the never-ending attempt to find glory for Delhi football.