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ISL 2017-18: Mohun Bagan, East Bengal’s absence robs tournament of rich legacy

Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were expected to be part of the 2017 Indian Super League but due to a stand-off over the payment of the franchise fee, the tournament has been robbed of a rich rivalry.

indian super league 2017 Updated: Nov 17, 2017 10:33 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
ISL 2017,Indian Super League 2017,Indian football
Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were expected to be part of the 2017 Indian Super League but they decided against playing over issues relating to payment of franchise fee.(PTI)

One of the issues in the build-up to the Indian Super League has been the non-inclusion of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the tournament. The two Kolkata heavyweights were expected to be part of the set-up but there was a stand-off over the payment of franchise fee.

It is felt that the football tournament could have been richer with the addition of the two clubs because of their rich legacy. No one understands the term ‘legacy’ better than Mumbai City FC’s co-owner Ranbir Kapoor - for in the world of Indian films the word is synonymous with the Kapoor family.

Asked for his views on the debate whether the two clubs will add to the buzz of the ISL, Ranbir said: “Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, they are legends, they have such a huge fan base, (but) I am no one to say. I have not seen much of them, but from what I have heard is that they have given so much happiness to a lot of people. And, whatever platform you are playing, I-league, ISL or private tournaments, as long as you are playing for the love of the sport, as long as you entertain fans, that’s what matters.”

In Indian football, the two Kolkata teams had an aura like no one else. For a MB-EB derby, stands were known to fill up anywhere in the country, not just in Kolkata. During the days when knock-out events happened in the city, Rovers Cup or Federation Cup, the Mumbai football fans have also experienced that buzz. The last time the two Kolkata teams had met at Mumbai’s Cooperage ground, the stands were packed half an hour before kick-off.

As for his Indian Super League team, Mumbai City FC, the movie star dreams of building a great fan base, similar to his favourite La Liga club, Barcelona.

“Being a Barcelona fan, I have gone for their games and seen how the whole city comes alive on match days. It is such an exciting atmosphere, a social thing for the city. I am hoping that down the years, a similar trend happens (in Mumbai), the fans get attached to the team.”

As for his top three football moments, the actor stated: “I think the first time I ever found recognition in my life was when I played the under-14 inter-school football tournament and scored a goal. My name came in the newspaper and my mother cut the clipping and kept it. It was such a big moment for me, I actually felt important. I am an actor, have got so much of fame and adulation but what that newspaper cutting meant to me… no words will be able to describe it.

“The second would be the moment I met Lionel Messi. He is my idol, the amount of talent he has and he uses it in such a positive way. He is very shy; I myself was so star struck. The third would of course be the birth of Mumbai City FC.”

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 10:31 IST