Kolkata Maidan yesterday witnessed the much awaited clash between the elite and century old Mohun Bagan AC and tender yet dominant ATK. The match resulted in a 2-1 victory for Kibu Vicuna’s Mariners over a young ATK brigade. Initially the latter seemed unable to adapt to the drenched field conditions conceding a goal by Beitia before the half time but the inclusion of Boris Singh after the break added an extra pace that made the young side capable enough to reduce the goal difference depending on Ashish Pradhan’s apt shot.
Though the pitch saw a complete sportsmanship all through the match coming up with a competitive match between the Spaniard led Green and Maroons and the indigenous ATK lads, it was a day of utter despair at the stands as a part of the audience donning the Mohun Bagan jersey turned things harsh for the visiting fans. The Mariners as usual were numerically superior to the visiting ATK fans showcasing their gallant yet humorous tifo but the indifference turned bitter when a band of Mohun Bagan supporters started to physically abuse a part of the Red and Whites as they man handled the visiting fans. The situation turned worse for the females donning the ATK jersey as they were abused and eve teased and even the ATK fans were threatened to put off the ATK jersey if they wanted to sit in the stand. Finally within the second quarter of the game the situation turned saturated with violence compelling the passionate yet numerically inferior ATK fans leave the ground.
The questions that now first come in are why the ATK fans were not made to seat in a separate away stand? Were the Durand organizers not aware of the rivalry they share? Why did ATK fail to provide the minimum security to their fans? Did they make any communication with the Durand organizers to arrange an away stand? Who will take the liability of the situation that a part of the audience dealt with as “at some moment we felt we are surely going to be beaten up in the half time” an ardent ATK fan excerpts as he still dwelled in the trauma. Is it really the true spirit of rivalry that fans from different teams should experience? Surely not as Bill Shankly once famously said, “Football isn’t a matter of life or death. It is much more serious than that”.
Football surely promotes adrenaline rush and emotional roller coaster, it showcases humour among opponents but the stands cannot turn to be a site of uncontrolled criminal acts as at the end it’s the “fan who define football”. This intolerant attitude has turned to be a regular phenomenon of in the heart land of football; Kolkata is always famous worldwide for the rivalry that the East Bengal and Mohun Bagan supporters share but the recent behaviour from both the sides have curbed the tune that prevailed century long raising a question to the future of Bengal football as one of the former Mohun Bagan players and current Indian National from Bengal voiced his annoyance against the hooliganism prevailing in the name of football, “I was scheduled to go for this match between ATK and Mohun Bagan but I changed my mind when the venue shifted to the Bagan ground as I knew situations will again turn harsh and will make Bengal ashamed once again”.
Pronay Halder, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose are currently the only regulars from Bengal in the Indian National team lacking any young rising player from Bengal promising to fill up the void in future which shows the deviation from the ultimate goal of producing future national team players. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are definitely two of the major pillars of Indian football and that’s the best reason they should come out strong along with the state administration and stand at all to resist all odds in Bengal football culture. As it’s high time to stop the nuisance or else dark days are surely to come over Bengal football very soon making young football lovers refraining from visiting the football grounds in future.