East Bengal fear they may face AFC action in face of persistent crowd trouble

The Red and Gold plan to mitigate the issue with media campaigns to educate the attendees on the need for a peaceful support from the stands...

Crowd trouble is a constant phenomenon in football today. Leagues from Egypt to Russia and even some in highly established leagues like the Seria A and the English Premier League. Essentially clubs get fined or play in a closed door stadium as stipulated by a governing body as part of their punishment.

One such club who are wary of punitive and legal action are Kolkata based side East Bengal. It has been revealed that the club fear possible expulsion from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Cup if they do not take steps to temper the sometimes heedless faction of crowds that attend matches.

East Bengal's next outing at the Salt Lake stadium involves the AFC quarter final match against Indonesian club Semen Padang on September 17th. Debuting in the quarters of the AFC Cup in 2004, East Bengal also holds an individual Indian record - featuring in four consecutive editions of the tournament.

The Kolkata side are aware that crowd troubles on previous occasions of illustrious matches, in the AFC Cup itself, has resulted in heavy financial fines against them and another one could be disastrous.

Speaking to The Times of India, Club Secretary Kalyan Majumdar elucidated, “We have requested the state sports minister (Madan Mitra) to take stock of the situation, and if necessary, deploy additional security personnel in the stands during the match.

“We have already been fined twice — INR 4,057,80 and INR 3,38,150 in successive seasons — after spectators burst firecrackers in the stands and threw missiles on to the ground.” 

Kalyan also warily admitted, “A repeat of such incidents could see the AFC take a stronger action against us. We could be asked to play behind closed doors or even be expelled from the tournament.”

The club aim to advertise the drawbacks of crowd trouble through enhanced media campaigns in the hope that peaceful support will be the order of the day during the match.

Ticket prices have been pegged at INR 200 for VVIPs, INR150 for VIP enclosures and INR 100 for other terraces. Tickets will be available from the club tent from Wednesday.

5000 tickets have been distributed to the members or associations of the sports ministry.

Meanwhile on the footballing front, East Bengal’s calendar will be washed with fixtures if they make it to the semi-finals of the AFC Cup.

If Marcos Falopa’s side were to progress further, they would possibly miss the opening three rounds of the I-League tournament, which begins on September the 21st. The semi-final first leg is scheduled for October 1st.

“We tried to organize a match against a quality team. But neither Wim Koevermans’ India nor Bangladesh’s national team responded positively to our request,” lamented club director Amit Sen, as issues concerning the lack of preparation for the tournament seem to plague Falopa and his team.

The sweetening pill amongst all this angst is that the cub’s sponsors,, have vowed to create a special fund for their AFC Cup preparation.


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