Nearly 16 years after a president’s benevolence green lighted their participation in India’s biggest football competition, Mohun Bagan are again seeking that and the sympathy of the All India Football Federation’s executive committee. And such is the importance of being Mohun Bagan that they may
well get both.
The club’s appeal against the two-and-a-half season ban from I-League — a punishment that also makes them ineligible for the Federation Cup — will be heard by the 19-member AIFF executive committee in Delhi on Tuesday. Speaking from Delhi, AIFF counsel Ushanath Banerjee clarified that AIFF’s apex body has the right to amend the decision though it is based on an I-League regulation.
Hefty fine possible
No one from the executive committee wanted to go on record but it is possible that the ban will be reduced and given that Mohun Bagan in their appeal have proposed it, a hefty fine imposed. Late on Monday, a petition signed by all I-League clubs except E Bengal and Pailan Arrows was sent to the AIFF urging lighter punishment.
There were unconfirmed reports that Bagan president Swapan Sadhan Bose and his son Srinjoy, the club’s assistant-secretary, met AIFF president Praful Patel on Monday. And Patel, executive committee members told HT on Monday, holds the key to deciding whether the letter of the law should be upheld. The officials requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitive nature.
It could seem like a spectacular self-goal if the AIFF allows Bagan back in I-League 6 since their claim of inadequate security — cited as reason for pulling out of the Dec 9 match against E Bengal — wasn’t backed by match commissioner Gulab Chauhan. Football’s world body Fifa deems facts in the match commissioner’s report to be correct. AK Ganguly, the retired Supreme Court judge appointed by AIFF to probe whether the refusal to play was a case of force majeure, too has quashed Bagan’s contention.