Crowd violence mars Bagan-E Bengal clash

Match called off as missile from crowd injures Bagans Nabi

A wave of violence engulfed the gigantic Yuva Bharati Krirangan, forcing the marquee I-League clash between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to be called off, besides leaving 40 injured here on Sunday.

The situation at stadium was, however, brought under control fast enough to avert a bigger tragedy.

The casualties included 20 policemen who were injured in the scuffle, police sources said.
Commissioner of Bidhannagar Police, Rajiv Kumar, was also injured and suffered cuts in his cheek, the source said, adding three persons were detained in connection with the incident.

Reminding one of the violence during another Mohun Bagan-East Bengal derby at the Eden Gardens on August 16, 1980 in which 16 fans were killed and scores injured, fans on Sunday started pelting stones and bricks into the field after Mohun Bagan’s star recruit Okolie Odafa was given the marching orders by the referee.

This occurred soon after East Bengal drew first blood through Harmanjot Khabra in the 43rd minute from a Mehtab Hossain free-kick.

Mohun Bagan forward Syed Rahim Nabi was injured after one of the bricks thrown from the stands hit him on his face. As Nabi had to be hospitalised, the Bagan players came off the field. The match was called off after Bagan refused to field their players in the second half.

The highly charged-up game snowballed into madness soon after Mohun Bagan’s star player Odafa was sent off by Vishnu Chauhan for showing dissent.

As soon as the Nigerian was sent off, Mohun Bagan fans started to hurl rockets, one of them hitting Nabi’s face. Surprisingly, the spectators managed to sneak in a large number of stones and bricks, apart from sticks and crackers, into the stands, despite heavy police presence.

Bidhannagar Police sources claimed that the hooligans had managed to break concrete slabs in the stadium and used the pieces as missiles.

Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan might have to face stringent punishment including suspension up to three years as per AIFF Clause 22, said I-League CEO Sunando Dhar, who was present at the match.

“As per the clause, Mohun Bagan could face suspension for the next three years for refusing to play after having played till half time. Clause 22 of AIFF states if a team withdraws in the middle of the match, they will be suspended from the I-League for the current season and the following two seasons unless it is dubbed a force majeure,” Dhar said.

“According to FIFA rule if a missile of any kind lands on the ground or if a player is injured, then a team has every right to walk off. However, Mohun Bagan played out the stoppage time in the first half after a rocket (fire cracker) hit Rahim Nabi.”

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