By Rajat Roy
Mohun Bagan, the iconic football club, has been banned for two years from the I- League by All India Football Federation (AIFF) for abandoning a violence-marred derby match against East Bengal on December 9.
The decision was taken by the I-League Core Committee, which also declared all the club’s matches in “I-League Competition 2012-13 are cancelled”. Hundreds of supporters assembled at the club precinct when the news of the ban came out. Angry supporters demanded the resignation of club secretary Anjan Mitra.
Indicating that Mohun Bagan would appeal before the AIFF against the ban, Mitra said they would consult lawyers before taking any step.
Veteran footballer Samar Banerjee, who led the Indian football team in Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and also led Mohun Bagan for several years, said it was a black day for him and for football lovers of India. Baichung Bhutia, former Mohun Bagan and India team captain, also expressed his disappointment at the development.
Founded in 1889, Mohun Bagan is the oldest football club in India. It is the first Indian club to win the IFA Shield final, in 1911, beating East Yorkshire Regiment. They have won the erstwhile National Football League thrice — in 1997-98, 1999-2000, 2001-02 — and their best performance in the re-christened I-League has been a runners-up finish in 2008-09.
The I-League core committee will meet on January 9 to decide if the quantum of punishment on Mohun Bagan is enough or if additional fine and suspension were needed.