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In an exclusive interview with Goal.com, the AIFF general secretary explained the decision as why the Mariners were banned...

Kushal Das, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary, has opined that the highest governing body of football in India is “extremely saddened” to punish Mohun Bagan but added that they are facing the consequences of breaking the rules.

Mohun Bagan, a century old Kolkata club, has been disqualified from this year’s I-League and banned from the next two editions for not playing the second half of Kolkata derby having raised the security concerns. This decision took the football fraternity by storm as Mohun Bagan are one of the most popular clubs of the nation, having a large fan base and suspending them may turn out to be a major blow for the otherwise not-so-popular Indian football.

Das told in an exclusive chat with Goal.com stated that the Executive Committee wanted to punish those found guilty given that a game of the nation’s top division league was discarded mid-way. A one-man committee of Honourable justice A.K. Ganguly, appointed by AIFF President Praful Patel, investigated and concluded that the decision of the Mariners for not playing the match after the interval cannot be supported on the ground of Force Majeure and hence have violated the I-League Regulations.

According to Das, it was emotionally very hard for them to declare such a decision on Mohun Bagan but also stressed on the fact that the management should know the rules well.

“Yes, we are extremely saddened. But there should also be some professionalism in managing a team. These are no new rules,” informed Das.

The Mohun Bagan officials have claimed on several occasions over the last few days that they will approach higher authorities in case the verdict goes against them.

“If they approach FIFA, I don’t think FIFA will take the matter into its own hands. They never go against the rules of any member association.”

 “This decision was important to send the message that I-League is a serious product. We are heading towards professionalism and these steps are important,” said Das.

The AIFF general secretary also stressed on the fact that Mohun Bagan still have an opportunity to appeal against the decision. The ‘Green and Maroon’ side will certainly try to capitalize any chance that comes their way to avoid the ban.

Consequent to Mohun Bagan being considered to have withdrawn from the I-League Competition 2012-2013 and having all its matches cancelled and considered null and void (all points, goals scored and goal against being taken away), the revised Fixture with re-structured Point Table will be published as soon as possible.

As Mohun Bagan has been considered to have withdrawn from the I-League, the question remains whether two more teams will be relegated or only one team will face demotion. Das told that these issues will be dealt with when the I-League Core Committee meets again on January 9.

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