A match between Indian football’s biggest rivals ended controversially when the 10th round I-league encounter between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium was called off midway with the latter pulling out in protest.

A missile from the stands, where almost 80,000 supporters had gathered to watch the match, hit Mohun Bagan midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi on the head causing a bleeding injury. Mohun Bagan cited security concerns and refused to take the field after the break.

The side also submitted a letter detailing the reasons to the match commissioner Gulab Singh Chauhan, who waited for the team to return before announcing the abandonment.

East Bengal was leading by Harmanjot Khabra’s 42nd minute goal at the end of the first session. Trouble started when the referee showed Mohun Bagan striker Okolie Odafa the red card in the 44th minute for charging at him and making threatening gestures.

Immediately after the red card, a missile from the stands hit Nabi, who was given first aid at the ground and was rushed to a nearby hospital for further treatment.

The player is reported to be stable and recovering. He is yet to be released from the hospital, where his condition is being monitored.

The match was held up from almost 10 minutes after Nabi was injured.

The two teams then played the remaining few minutes of the first half.

Sunando Dhar, the I-League CEO present at the stadium, said that the matter will be referred to the tournament committee which will study the reports of the match officials and decide on the fate of the match.

The decision is likely to be taken before Mohun Bagan’s next round match.

Mr. Dhar said that he personally did not feel there was any “law and order problem” which Mohun Bagan had cited as a reason for the injury to its player and the subsequent pulling out.

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