I-League: Minerva Punjab moves court after AIFF refuses to relocate tie

Following the All India Football Federation's refusal to relocate Monday's tie against Real Kashmir, defending champion Real Kashmir has filed a writ petition in Delhi High Court.

While Monday's result hangs in the balance, Minerva Punjab is currently ninth on the I-League table with 14 points from 16 games.   -  [email protected]

Defending champion Minerva Punjab FC has submitted a writ petition in the Delhi High Court after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) refused to relocate Monday's I-League match against Real Kashmir in Srinagar in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.

Claiming it was not given the written security assurances it sought, Minerva Punjab did not travel to the Jammu and Kashmir’s capital for the game, even as the host team players turned up at the TRC Turf Ground in their jerseys.

RELATED| Real Kashmir-Minerva fixture at heart of controversy

Interestingly, the AIFF has not declared the match as a forfeiture till now. As per FIFA guidelines, in the event of a forfeiture, full points are awarded to the team turning up for the game.

“We have filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court seeking relief so that we are not forced to play in Srinagar at this volatile time,” Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj told PTI.

“Even today there was a 12-hour encounter where four armymen have been martyred. And they are saying ‘come and play football here’ Unless the court intervenes, we are not expecting natural justice,” he added.

AIFF STATEMENT

With Hero I-League defending champions Minerva Punjab FC failing to turn up for their scheduled match against Real Kashmir FC on February 18, 2019 at TRC ground in Srinagar, the Match Commissioner’s report along with other relevant documents are being referred to the All India Football Federation’s League Committee for further action as per the I-League Regulations.

The match commissioner along with the referees who have been posted in Srinagar since Friday (February 15, 2019), were at the venue for the match for a slated 2 pm kick-off, along with host club Real Kashmir FC as per the regulations.

Despite the tragic events which have unfolded in Kashmir over the past few days, football for the people of Jammu and Kashmir has been maintained on schedule, with assistance from the security provided by the authorities, with the qualifying matches of the Santosh Trophy being completed on February 16, approximately 36 kilometres from Jammu in Katra, which was, and is still under curfew.

In a statement, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said, “The local security authorities in Srinagar have given a go-ahead to hold the match. The AlFF has assured of all the necessary arrangements for players and officials by the local authority.”

He added that the “whole security arrangement of the players from the airport to the team hotel and from travelling from the hotel to the ground and return, everything was taken care of.”

RELATED| East Bengal awaiting AIFF response on Real Kashmir fixture

The fate of the February 28 match between East Bengal and Real Kashmir, scheduled to be played in Srinagar, has also come under the cloud.

Real Kashmir FC co-founders Sandeep Chattoo and Shamim Meraj expressed disappointment that the match did not take place.

“It’s very unfortunate that the match could not take place today at TRC, we had made all the necessary arrangements for the visiting team and had got the local authorities supporting us. Despite apprehensions, a lot of locals turned up for the match.”

On Thursday, at least 40 CRPF paramilitary troopers were killed while several others injured in what is being termed as the deadliest terrorist strike in three decades in Jammu and Kashmir.

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