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Pakistani footballers hauled up by Bangalore police

sports Updated: Aug 16, 2014 21:48 IST
Kushal Phatarpekar
Kushal Phatarpekar
Hindustan Times

In a major embarrassment for the organisers of the two-match Indo-Pak friendly football series in Bangalore, the city police on Saturday hauled up four members of the Pakistan contingent, including a player, after some confusion over the names submitted to the police commissioner's office.

The four members included Pakistan's first-choice goalkeeper Saqib Hanif, manager Asgar Khan and two support-staff members. Asgar had to report to the Ashok Nagar police station to clarify the 'error'. The issue cropped up on Saturday as the officials, captains and coaches of the two U-23 teams assembled at the Bangalore football stadium for a media briefing.

The police found 'discrepancies' in the lists of the Pak contingent and subsequently, some members of the visiting side were asked to submit fresh copies of their visas and passports. A senior Pakistan Football Federation official Naveed Haider Khan told HT that, "The entire team had received the necessary visas. However, the names of some of the members handed to the local police were jumbled. It is not our mistake."

"We have now given fresh copies of the visas and passports to the authorities. Hopefully, the matter will be resolved soon," he added.

The Sunil Chhetri-led India will play the opening match on Sunday, followed by another on August 20. This will be the first such series between the neighbours since 2005 when India visited Pakistan for a three-match series.

Sources said that the police also visited the hotel where the team has been put up. Bangalore city police commissioner, MN Reddi, said the police follow a set protocol in such matters. "There is procedure which has to be followed and nobody is above the law. I can only assess the situation once I have all the details."

Meanwhile, security has been tightened around the stadium, with police escorts being provided to the teams. The anxiety in the Karnataka State Football Association can be gauged from the fact that only 4500 tickets in a stadium with a capacity of 8000 have been distributed. The team hotel too has multi-layer security.

In 2009, Jammu and Kashmir cricketer Pervez Rasool was detained for a brief period when the India player was visiting the city with his state's under-22 side.