The AIFF’s exception for Mohun Bagan takes us back to the era of apartheid – Churchill Alemao

Churchill is the latest in the line of clubs who are displeased with the Indian FAs decision to overturn the ban on the Mariners...

Churchill Brothers, who were among the clubs who believed that the two-year (excluding that they were considered withdrawn from the current season) ban on Mohun Bagan imposed by the I-League Core Committee for not having turned up for the second half action against East Bengal was harsh, have slammed the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for being far too lenient on the Kolkata club at the expense of the rest of the I-League teams.

Mohun Bagan have certainly benefitted from the AIFF Executive Committee’s decision to allow them to complete their remaining 16 matches with zero points to start with given that they now have a full strength squad at their disposal.

“Bagan used the suspension period for closed coaching camp. They had four players on the injury list then. Now, all of them have recovered and are fully fit. The other clubs continued with their matches and have several players who are injured. Clearly, it’s total advantage Bagan, which can be nullified for the sake of fair play if all other clubs are also given such an over a month’s rest for recovery,” Churchill Alemao, the patron of Churchill Brothers stated in a letter to the Indian FA.

He questioned the grounds on which Mohun Bagan were allowed to go scot free and that the new verdict has been in favour of the Kolkata side as opposed to taking a stringent measure against teams who stage a walk-off in an I-League game.

“The suspension (handed out by the I-League Core Committee) was according to the I-League regulations – Rule 22 (c) and others. It’s very specific and appropriate. The rule talks about abandonment only and clearly prescribes punishment for all such acts. And, the executive committee agrees that it is in perfect order, more so as a judge of Supreme Court (Mr.A.K.Ganguly was appointed in a One Man Commission by the Indian FA president Praful Patel) investigated the matter and succinctly concluded that Mohun Bagan cannot take shelter under Force Majeur,” he mentioned.

Alemao opined that AIFF has surpassed their powers in their bid to protect Mohun Bagan and that in future; the rules wouldn’t hold any significance as it would give the Executive Committee the right to not honour them and act as per their whim.

“The same (lack of following a procedure and stating rules) cannot be said about the revoking of the suspension and imposing other conditions. Such powers must be inherent in the rules, thus the executive committee has exceeded their powers, if not let the members point out under which clause or rule they can turn down the initial verdict and impose new sanctions, more so when the AIFF boasts that it will be the first and last time that such a decision be taken and should not be pointed out as a precedent.

“If this be the trend, then one can expect any sort of verdict in the future thus giving an impression that the AIFF has unlimited powers to do what they feel like doing without taking recourse to their own rules, or disregarding their own rules,” he wrote in his letter.

Have The AIFF Executive Committee Shown Prejudice?

He went on to state that the AIFF has mentioned that they wouldn’t be giving any special consideration as in Mohun Bagan’s case in future, it was a case of sheer favouritism.

“The AIFF agrees that an exception has been granted to Mohun Bagan and that no exceptions shall ever be granted to any other club in future. This is sheer discrimination, taking us back to the era of apartheid. The offence committed by Bagan is grave and the punishment very, very light. It defies logic.

“Bagan stand suspended from December 10 (2012) to January 14, and all their matches during the suspension period are to be rescheduled. This is ridiculous, to say the least. That means Bagan were never punished for their grave act in the first instance. And, this itself now becomes a punishment for the other clubs,” he reasoned.

“Bagan should continue playing matches slated from January 15 only as per the original calendar, there being no scope whatsoever for playing matches from the suspension period right from the day of abandonment on December 9,” he suggested.

Churchill Brothers, who have to twice face Bagan, believe that the AIFF haven’t found a middle ground by revoking the ban and handing out a fine of Rupees two crores instead of taking a stern action against the club officials.

“The AIFF has shown total leniency in totally revoking the ban. It is the authors of the `abandonment letter’ who should have been taken to task and the ban shifted from the club to them, since it was affecting the players and fans. Those who wrote the letter should have been banned because it is they or one person who signed it who should be held totally responsible for the abandonment. Imposing a fine can send wrong signals that one can commit a serious offence and can get away by paying money. The AIFF has compromised on certain sacred principles and that’s bad for any sport,” he elaborated.

Churchill opined that the teams who defeated Bagan earlier in the season stand to benefit from the judgment while the others who lost have been a raw deal. He suggested that all the I-League games until January 15 for Mohun Bagan must be considered null and void for starters.

As earlier reported by, several clubs were taken aback by the AIFF’s decision and hence later began to voice their opinion against it despite having signed a letter by the Indian Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) which felt that the ban on Bagan was a tad too inconsiderate. It does offer an interesting twist suggesting that the clubs are not on the same page as was seen in the case of United Sikkim, Churchill Brothers and East Bengal and whether IPFCA’s decisions can be taken seriously at all as their very own members have spoken otherwise.

“If IPFCA could plead that the 3-year suspension was too harsh, it is now duty bound to highlight the injustice as a result of the follow-up of the AIFF’s executive committee U-turn, as after all, we live in a democracy,” he added.

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