Kolkata: Having witnessed several poor refereeing decisions unfurled at them during the course of the I-League, East Bengal on Saturday shot-off a letter to the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) seeking a seeking a panel of observers and foreign referees for their clash against Minerva Punjab on February 13 — tipped to be a potential title deciding encounter.
The Kolkata giants are currently six points behind Minerva, who lead the table with 29 points from 13 matches. But with five matches remaining for both the sides and East Bengal not far behind at third, the winner of this encounter may well go on to become the I-League champions.
Both the Punjabi warriors and Red and Golds are chasing their maiden league crown and hence the eight time Federation Cup winners wants to leave no stones unturned before the high-octane clash.
“The match will possibly decide the eventual winners of the I-League 2017-18. However, there are certain serious concerns for all East Bengal supporters, members, officials,” East Bengal secretary Kalyan Majumdar wrote in his letter addressed to AIFF secretary Kushal Das.
“A panel of two or more additional AIFF match observers and referee assessors should be appointed for this crucial game to ensure that the game is conducted in a fair manner,” he appealed. Before adding, “Such panel can comprise of ex-Indian players who are experienced and have played similar crunch matches in the past.”
Majumdar also took a dig at the Indian referees, those that officiated East Bengal’s match saying that they have been on the “receiving end of several questionable decisions” and is therefore requesting for a foreign referee for what he termed as a ‘special’ match.
“There are possibilities that such situations may occur on February 13. We fear that an Indian referee may be subjected to stress which will impair his ability to conduct the game in an unbiased manner,” added the Red and Golds secretary.
“We would sincerely appreciate if the match is conducted by a reputed team of referee and assistant referees of foreign origin keeping the best interest of the game in mind.”
Pointing out the claims of match-fixing made by Minerva Punjab owner and team manager Ranjit Bajaj, Majumdar asked the AIFF to take necessary action but only after finding out the accuracy of those allegations.
“His (Ranjit Bajaj) allegations are very serious in nature if found to be true. However, if they are are baseless and false, then he and the other concerned should be seriously reprimanded or suspended,” he added referring to East Bengal club captain Arnab Mondal’s case where the defender was heavily fined and also suspended for ‘racial discrimination.’
“AIFF had acted with surprising alacrity against him which resulted in his suspension and penalty.”
Lastly, he also asked the country’s apex football body to ensure a smooth pre-match environment and for a fair-game which he wrote should be played in true spirit and competition.