The Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21), which is set to begin in Goa in two days, has run into further political trouble as the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) halted official vehicles of Mumbai City FC on Wednesday. The incident occurred outside the Nagoa Panchayat Ground, Mumbai City’s training base.
The GPCC had alleged earlier this month that the local vendors have not been offered any logistical contracts and that all the ISL-related work has been outsourced. Incidentally, both vehicles that were stopped on Wednesday were outstation vehicles – the team bus bore an Uttar Pradesh registration while the other vehicle was a Delhi-registered Innova.
GPCC vice president Sankalp Amonkar, who led the protest, told Sportstar: “We protested today by stopping the bus and not allowing the players to get down. The bus is registered in Uttar Pradesh. We sent it back and did not let the team practice today. Our demand is that when such a big event is happening in Goa, why should the local people not get business?”
He continued that the ISL’s management has agreed to meet the GPCC’s members on Thursday. “The ISL management has coordinated with our leadership (Digambar Kamat, former Goa Chief Minister and party president Girish Chodankar) and has fixed a meeting tomorrow evening at Panjim. They said they will listen to our grievances and demands and we are going to tell them the same thing – just give the business to Goans like any other season.”
Manohar Ajgaonkar, Goa’s Sports Minister, says he has not received any proposals from the aggrieved parties. “I support the fact that Goans should get the jobs, but they (opposition party and vendors) have not reached out to us so far. I have not received any proposal on what their demands are. If we receive a proposal, then we can consider it and speak to the ISL,” he told Sportstar.
He added that the ISL will continue as per schedule. “The tournament will go on…the government has given the clubs the permission to train and play and they will get security as well.”
Wednesday's incident comes less than three weeks after Goa Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant had to intervene and solve a conflict between the local transport operators and the organisers as the former threatened legal action against the ISL for using other State vehicles for transportation within Goa.
The entire season will be played in Goa owing to the coronavirus pandemic. All matches will be held across three stadiums - the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim and the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco.
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