MB-EB I-League derby postponed amid security concerns

File PTI photo of a Derby match

The upcoming I-League derby between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in Kolkata was on Wednesday postponed after organisers failed to get "security assurances" from the state police for an expected full house.

The clash was scheduled to be held on December 22 and though the All India Football Federation (AIFF) did not specify the exact reason why security assurances couldn't come through, sources in the apex body said "it was related to the ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act."

In a letter, the police conveyed its inability to provide security for what will be a packed crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium.

"With reference to the much-awaited Hero I-League match between Mohun Bagan AC and Quess East Bengal originally scheduled to be held at Kolkata's Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Sunday, December 22, 2019, a formal letter from the office of the Dy. Commissioner of Police, Bidhannagar to Mohun Bagan has cited that ' 'organising a full-scale match on 22.12.2019 shall be quite challenging for all the stakeholders'," the AIFF said in a statement.

The letter further "requested" the home team (Mohun Bagan) "to restrict the total number of saleable tickets", which the AIFF thought was not possible for a much-anticipated derby like this.

In a subsequent letter, Mohun Bagan director Debashis Dutta also requested the organisers to reschedule the match, saying that such a restriction (from police) would take away the "opportunity of thousands of football lovers to cheer for their favourite team from the stands".

"Taking note of both the letters, the match has been postponed. The new dates will be communicated soon," the AIFF said.

The contentious act seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The passage of the bill has led to protests in few states, including Assam and West Bengal.

Protests in Assam earlier led to the cancellation of an Indian Super League game and a Ranji Toophy match in Guwahati last week. 

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