Kolkata football tragedy: Fans donate blood to mark 40th anniversary

900 fans donated blood across to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the derby disaster that claimed the lives of 16 people at Eden Gardens.

On 16 August 1980, 16 football fans died due to a stampede and riot inside the Eden Gardens stadium during an ill-tempered clash between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Around 900 people donated blood across Bengal to mark the 40th anniversary of the Kolkata derby stampede that claimed the lives of 16 people at the Eden Gardens exactly 40 years ago. In Kolkata, 227 people donated blood at the Netaji Indoor Stadium to observe ‘Football Lovers’ Day’.

The programme was organised by the Indian Football Association (IFA), governing body of the sport in the state, with the support of State Government’s department of sports. The district affiliates of IFA, who also organised similar blood donation camps, recorded the rest of the numbers.

People thronged the venue in Kolkata despite restrictions due to the pandemic. According to the officials, there were more donors than what was recorded in the previous few years. Former footballers including the captains of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan came and paid their tribute to the 16 fans who died in the stampede triggered by the ill-tempered clash between the oldest rivals of Indian football.

Football fans donate blood at Netaji Indoor Stadium to observe 'Football Lovers Day'.   -  PTI


“I am always filled with sadness on this day thinking of the lives that were lost because of a football match. We have seen that passion runs high among supporters of the two teams when East Bengal and Mohun Bagan play a match. But since that tragic day on August 16, 1980, I have felt that our fans should only support good football and shun violence,” Satyajit Mitra, who captained East Bengal in that fateful match, said.

“The atmosphere in the stands on the day was unusually charged and I saw some people stretchered out from the stands before the match started. The violence may have intensified during the match as there was no system of segregating the supporters like we have now. I came to know about the deaths after the match and was shocked and heartbroken by the incident,” said Compton Dutta, the then Mohun Bagan captain. Former India defender Manoranjan Bhattacharya, who turned out for East Bengal, also lamented the tragic incident.

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