By our Sports Reporter
GUWAHATI, Dec 26: Unprecedented in Assam, and perhaps elsewhere in the country as well! The failure on the part of a soccer team to meet the norm set for its ambulance has led to the calling off a scheduled match in Guwahati today.
Today's scheduled match in the 2nd Division I league was between Guwahati FC and Mohammedan Sporting. The match had to be called off as match commissioner Rizwanul Haq was adamant not to allow the game as he felt that the ambulance which was parked inside the ground for use during the game did not fulfill the norm set by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The incident disheartened the officials of Gauhati FC who are planning to withdraw the team from the competition. They are even contemplating on moving the court seeking 'justice'.
It was the third home matches for Guwahati FC, and they arranged the game in the very way they had done in the previous matches against Fateh Hyderabad and Neroca. A similar ambulance was also used during the matches and there was no complaint from the match commissioner. However, this time around it was a different story.
According to rules of the competition, an ambulance must be fitted with an automated exterl defibrillator (AED) but both the ambulances which were engaged for this game do not have such facilities. However, the rules also permit the match commissioner to go ahead without AED if he feels that the match can be held without this facility. On earlier occasions, both the match commissioners gave green sigl to Guwahati FC and both the matches were held in the city as scheduled.
Talking to mediapersons after the calling off the game, Sanjive rain, the co-owner of Guwahati FC, said it is a bad day for soccer in Assam and in India as well. "Earlier, we informed the match commissioner that those facilities are not available in the city, but he didn't react. However, in the very last minute, when the match was about to start, Haq told us that he would not allow the start of the game without AED ambulance. It looked like that he was trying to give special facilities to someone. All India Football Federation didn't give any fincial assistance to the participating clubs in the prelimiry round, and we have to spend the entire cost of the team. Thereafter, if such incidents happen and teams are not allowed to play the tourment, it's unfortute. We are disheartened. We're seriously thinking of withdrawing the team from the competition. We may even move the court."
Match commissioner Rizwanul Haq, in a brief interaction with the media, said that he was just following the rules. When he was told that two earlier matches of the competition were held in the city without the interference of Match Commissioner, he replied, "I can't give comment on the previous matches. I can speak only on the present situation."
There was an allegation that the facilities fulfilling the AIFF rules were also not available in the match between the first leg game of Mohammedan Sporting and Guwahai FC in Kolkata, but the match went on without any interruption. A few other cities too failed to provide AED ambulances during the matches, but the match commissioners did not make it an issue and allowed the game to go on.
When the point was placed before Ankur Dutta, the secretary of AFA and the vice chairman of I League committee, he said, "We have to follow the rules. It's under the jurisdiction of the match commissioner to take the fil decision in this regard. We have to obey it."