Something that is pretty much unseen in footballing circles happened in the Kalyani Stadium, during the game between Pailan Arrows and Mohun Bagan.
And no, we are not talking of the snakes, who decided to have a listen to what Karim Bencherifa and Arthur Papas had to say in their press conference!
Mid-way through the second half, the referee, M. Santosh Kumar decided that it was time for a little water break, which was followed by another one. Of course, we did see the same during an International friendly between Argentina and Venezuela, as you might be able to re-call.
However in a competitive game, this must be a first, and in general circumstances, would have called into question, the fitness of the referee. Here though, his decision was met with sympathetic quotes from everyone at the game, thanks largely to the unbearable heat, under which the game was played.
It would be a waste of time to go over the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Salt Lake Stadium saga, however common-sense should have prevailed in such circumstances, and the match should have been delayed to atleast a couple of hours later, as the heat made it almost untenable for the players to continue performing at a decent level.
And hence the quality of the game suffered, as often you could see the players, out of breath and stamina, just passing the ball around at a snail-pace tempo, trying to muster enough energy for another attack or tackle.
Where is the joy in playing, in such heat?...
With such oppressive conditions and early kick-off timings, the fans also did not come in their usual numbers, and nobody could blame them for that.
Infact the authorities seem to just going through the motions, and as East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan said, possibly waiting for a casualty to occur, in order to be jolted into action.
However one hopes that such a tragedy doesn’t occur, but it is high-time that those in-charge, made the necessary changes, or else the game would continue to suffer, with the players forced to just go through the motions, with the fans having nothing much to celebrate over.
Ideally, the matches must be played under floodlights, which is of course not possible at Kalyani, and neither at Salt Lake, not until the IPL drama is over atleast!
This leaves the authorities with two options. Either they delay kick-off by atleast by a couple of hours, to make sure that the players and staff don’t feel the complete force of these rising temperatures, or the league calendar be re-scheduled, in such a way that the I-League gets over before the full force of summer hits the Indian peninsula from next season.
Fan interest is at an all-time low for the I-League, and why should they be interested in the snail pace, poor quality football being served to them in such oppressive climatic conditions?
Mind you, we haven't yet entered April as yet with the league ending in May. One can only wonder how many breaks we shall get to see in a 90 minute football game in those months with temperatures only rising with each day.
The players too can hardly be blamed for the poor quality of football, because as Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa pointed out, just standing near the touchline had left him and other officials drained of all energy. So imagine the plight of these poor footballers
It is high-time one stops playing with the careers of these players, and in the process also save the image (whatever is left of it!) of Indian football, which is frankly just mechanically going through the fixtures, with no heed paid to the poor brand on offer at the moment.
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