Kolkata: East Bengal Tuesday once again appealed the All India Football Federation to postpone their I-League match against Real Kashmir in the wake of Pulwama terror attack but ruled out defying the national governing body if it sticks to the schedule.
East Bengal said they will travel to Srinagar for their match against Real Kashmir on February 28 if “forced” to do so by the AIFF. The club said it will not take the legal route.
“We are appealing to AIFF to consider this on humanitarian grounds. A team who is in the title race cannot play under such circumstances. We will not take any legal steps. If they force us, we will play in that case,” East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar told reporters.
Sarkar said in reply to their letter sent on February 15, the AIFF has said it won’t postpone the match further.
“We are not here to fight with AIFF. We want to save football and footballers. If something happens to the players it will be a very bad advertisement for Indian football. But if AIFF forces us then we will try to convince our players to go,” he said.
“Our coach is a foreigner and we have six foreign players who have raised their concerns over playing there (in Srinagar),” he added.
I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said the February 28 match will be held as per schedule.
“We have replied to East Bengal’s e-mail. The situation in Srinagar is under control. It was under control yesterday (Monday) also. So the game between East Bengal and Real Kashmir will be held as scheduled on February 28,” Dhar told PTI.
East Bengal are currently in second spot on the I-League table with 32 points from 16 matches, five points adrift of leaders Chennai City FC with a game in hand. Real Kashmir are in third with the same number of points and having played 16 games like the red-and-golds.
The match between East Bengal and Real Kashmir was originally to be played on February 10 but the thick snow cover on the TRC ground forced rescheduling of the game to February 28.
But after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF troopers, defending champions Minerva Punjab FC refused to play in Srinagar on Monday. The Punjab side did not show up for their clash against a ready RKFC after asserting that the home club and the AIFF failed in providing written security assurances.
Minerva filed a writ petition at the Delhi High court, challenging AIFF’s refusal to either move the match to some other venue or postpone it.