The former Indian skipper believes that the failure to control crowd violence has resulted in the famous Kolkata derby losing some of its charm.Bhaichung Bhutia, widely regarded as India's greatest ever football player is an iconic figure for the sport across the country and has recently blamed the failure to control crowd violence for the Kolkata derby losing its charm.
The Sikkimese Sniper has plenty of experience playing in Indian football's most famous local derby having featured for East Bengal as well as Mohun Bagan. He's played 97 times for The Red and Gold scoring 52 goals while his 56 appearances for the Mariners yielded 25 goals.
"The charm and interest has gone down as both clubs have failed to control crowd violence," the 36 year old told The New York Times. "If you can’t bring in good people, women and children, if you can’t give safety, good stadiums, the interest and the money will dry up," he concluded.
The player who enjoyed so many memorable moments at the two Kolkata clubs went on to highlight the safety concerns that arise when the derby comes around with few members of the upper and middle classes attending the fixture.
"Middle and upper-class (society in) Kolkata don’t come to stadiums any more. For example, I can never take my wife and kid for my derby match. The clubs have not reached out to these people, to bring them back. The ones who come now are die-hard fans but also rough."
He pointed towards the steps taken in England to counter hooliganism as an example. "Passion is there from die-hard supporters, but you can’t bring violence into the sport. This is where we can learn from England, how they have controlled hooliganism."
When asked which of the two clubs he favours, Bhutia replied, "I have good relations with both clubs, but I started my career in East Bengal, so they definitely have a special place in my heart."
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