Mumbai City FC call for away stands in ISL after fans clash in Balewadi Stadium
In yet another disappointing endorsement for the Indian Super League, fans of Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City clashed among themselves at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Thursday, a couple of days after a Northeast United FC fan was harassed at Chennai by fans of the host franchise.
FC Pune City were down by a goal, courtesy Balwant Singh’s brilliant strike in the 15th minute, but Emiliano Alfaro struck twice, including one in the dying seconds to earn the bragging rights for the hosts. However, the remarkable comeback by the visitors was marred by the heated scenes at the stands, videos of which surfaced across social media on Thursday.
A Twitter user, who goes by the handle @frankhardik08, even claimed that the Mumbai City FC supporters were attacked with broken sticks on numerous occasions. He also demanded that away stands should be put in place to avoid such hassles.
Fans clashing at football stadiums aren’t something new though. Around five years back, the derby clash between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan had to be called off after fans pelted bricks and stones on the field, even injuring footballer Syed Rahim Nabi, before continuing their scuffle outside the stadium.
The ISL, however, doesn’t have such provisions and fans are usually found sitting in the same stands. Another Twitter user, who goes by the handle @im_rahul reiterated the claim. “Things getting out of hands here we need separate away stands! Away fans being hit by sticks and stones,” he stated in his post.
Mumbai City FC were quick to criticise the behavior meted out to their fans. “@IndSuperLeague Away stands being absolutely necessary and urgent? This is just one of the clippings we managed. More incoming. @FCPuneCity Absolute shame, in the name of security. Your officials just watched, as sticks, stones and what not were hurled on us. @indranildasblah,” they stated on their official handle.
The club’s CFO Indranil Das, too, took to Twitter to state his opinion on the issue: “Fans deserve better. We will look into it. On our part, let’s be extra nice to all visiting teams. Let’s not have anyone point fingers at us. Let’s show them the Mumbai way. You guys are the best and we couldn’t have asked for better support. We love you.”
Although there wasn’t any official statement from FC Pune City, their fan page ‘The Orange Army’ supported the claim for away stands while criticizing the incident. “The Orange Army is unaware of events that happened outside of our designated stand. Having said that, the Orange Army condemns all actions that result in physical harm to away fans. We are in strong support of separate stands for travelling fans,” they stated on their Twitter handle.