Abinash Ruidas has finally been allowed to join Mumbai City FC. This was after much hullaballoo over his signing at the Indian Super League (ISL) draft last month in Mumbai.
East Bengal claimed that the player had another year’s contract with the club while the player instead spoke otherwise. The ‘No Objection Certificate (NOC)’ wasn’t issued and hence, his transfer to the Ranbir Kapoor co-owned franchise couldn’t be completed.
Ruidas complained that East Bengal had forged his signature and shared alleged fake contract papers with the Indian Football Association (IFA), which is the West Bengal’s governing body for football.
“I’ve made inquiries with IFA but they are not showing any contract. I never signed for 2017-18. They are also saying ‘come for settlement’ and sign the contract. If I signed the contract then why they are asking me to sign again?” Ruidas questioned.
Thereby started a series of embarrassing episodes with a state body claiming that the national federation had no say on Ruidas’ matter!
The IFA summoned the player to their office and the 22-year-old winger opted not to attend the proceedings.
Utpal Ganguli, who serves as the IFA General Secretary, revealed that a separate case has been lodged wherein a handwriting expert would assess Ruidas' signature and verify the authenticity.
This led to the IFA declaring that the player was indeed contracted to East Bengal and that the AIFF need not interfere into the transfer related matter as it was beyond their jurisdiction! Ruidas’ representatives hired a Mumbai-based law firm, which requested the IFA to cease its involvement in dealing with the dispute and refer it to the right forum, the AIFF.
Ruidas complained that neither he nor the All India Football Federation (AIFF) were given a copy of the contract. The AIFF stepped in and claimed that the IFA had no say on the inter-state transfer of the player. They further formed a special committee who would take stock of the situation.
Interestingly, East Bengal never really submitted a copy of the contract to the AIFF.
The committee pointed out that AIFF's Constitution and the “AIFF Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players” is binding on all affiliated members, their affiliated units and players. And all of them are under obligations to comply with the regulations.
The committee also ruled that IFA's decision to allow East Bengal to register Ruidas on the grounds that possession of 'Token' provides the club with the legal right is erroneous since there was no valid, written, enforceable and binding contract to go with it, terming IFA's actions as 'unreasonable and unjust'.
In a dramatic turn of events, East Bengal gave a NOC last week to Ruidas allowing him to join Mumbai City FC. The Mumbai franchise didn’t have to shell out any transfer fee whatsoever.
This means that the Red and Gold never really possessed the contract of the player as if they indeed did, why would the NOC be granted without any transfer fee being involved?
Why wasn’t an action taken against the club for an alleged forgery? Why hasn’t an East Bengal or IFA official now come on record to state as to why the NOC was given if they indeed had a valid contract? What convinced them to let go of Ruidas for whom they battled with the ISL franchise and the AIFF?
Surely, there is more to it than what meets the eye.
There are at least a couple more cases pending with the Indian FA and it will be interesting to see whether other clubs would also be given a similar treatment.
It’s about time for the AIFF too to take a strong stand against clubs so as to avoid a repeat of such cases as at the end of the day, not only is it a mockery of the system but it’s the players who suffer.
Probably it's time for East Bengal fans also to question as to why the club let go of Ruidas if he had a contract?