The iconic football club Mohun Bagan has been banned for two years from the I- League by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for abandoning the violence-marred derby match against East Bengal on December 9. The decision was taken by the I-League Core Committee, which also declared all of club's matches in the "I-League Competition 2012-2013 cancelled and considered null and void."
Hundreds of supporters were assembled at the club precinct when the news of the ban reached there. The angry supporters welcomed the club secretary Anjan Mitra with slogans demanding his resignation. Later, Mitra told the newsmen that the executive committee of Mohun Bagan would meet tonight to discuss the development and decide on the steps to be taken. Indicating that Mohun Bagan would appeal before the AIFF against the ban, Mitra said that they would consult lawyers before taking any further steps.
Veteran footballer Samar Banerjee, who led Indian football team in Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and led Mohun Bagan for several years, said that it was a black day for him and for the football lovers of India. Baichung Bhutia, former Mohun Bagan and India team captain also expressed his sorrow.
The AIFF said in a statement that "the I-League Core Committee of the AIFF received the detailed Report dated 26th December 2012 of the Hon'ble Justice A K Ganguly relating to I-League Match No. 68 between Kingfisher East Bengal (KEB) and McDowell Mohun Bagan (MMB) played at Yuba Bharati Stadium, Salt Lake City Kolkata on 9 December 2012,"
"Justice Ganguly in his report has concluded that the decision of MMB for not playing the match after the interval cannot be supported on the grounds of Force Majeure and accordingly MMB has breached Regulation 22 of the I-League Regulation 2012-2013.
"The I-League Core Committee endorsed the decision of Justice A K Ganguly that MMB was in breach of I-League regulations and therefore in terms of regulation 22(c) the mandatory and automatic impositions on MMB (i) of being considered to have withdrawn from the I-League Competition 2012-2013 (ii) to have all its matches in the I-League Competition 2012-2013 cancelled and considered null and void (all points, goals scored and goal against being taken away); (iii) being disqualified from taking part in the next two (2) editions of the I-League Competitions; (iv) to return to the I-League any financial stipends that had been paid to it by I-League throughout the Competition 2012-2013 or forfeit the right to the same, are hereby notified to have been imposed upon and effective with immediate effect," the statement said.
Founded in 1889, Mohun Bagan is the oldest football club in the country. It is the first Indian club to win the IFA Shield final, in 1911, beating the East Yorkshire Regiment. They have won the erstwhile National Football League (NFL) thrice -- in 1997-98, 1999-2000, 2001-02 -- and their best performance in the re-christened I-League has been a runners-up finish in 2008-09.
The I-League core committee will meet January 9 to decide if the quantum of punishment imposed on Mohun Bagan is enough or if additional fine and suspension were needed.