The one-man committee, appointed by the All India Football Federation to look into the legality of Mohun Bagan’s actions in their I-League derby against East Bengal early this month, submitted its report on Thursday and the AIFF Emergency Committee will take a decision on Saturday.
Former Supreme Court Judge, Justice A K Ganguly, who was tasked to find out if Mohun Bagan’s refusal to play in the second half of that match at the Salt Stadium in Kolkata on December 9, could come under ‘force majeure’ conditions.
He was also to give a verdict on whether Mohun Bagan had violated I-League rules by refusing to turn up in second half after one of their players, Sayed Rahim Nabi was hospitalised after being hit by a stone hurled from the stands.
Ganguly gave his findings in a sealed envelope to the AIFF and it would be opened in an I-League Committee meeting, to be held in New Delhi on Saturday in the presence of top brass of the federation. The final decision on whether to ban Mohun Bagan or not will be taken by the AIFF’s Emergency Committee.
The Emergency Committee comprises of president, the five vice-presidents, general secretary and the treasurer.
“Justice Ganguly has submitted his report in a sealed envelope and it will be opened only on December 29 in presence of the top brass of the AIFF and the Emergency Committee will take the final call,” a source in the AIFF said.
The crucial issue in the whole episode would be Ganguly’s verdict on Mohun Bagan’s contention that their refusal to play in the second half would come under ‘force majeure’ (Act of God) conditions.
Ganguly had heard both Mohun Bagan and the AIFF, and had also seen the video footages of the incident.
Clause 22 of the AIFF states that if a team withdraws in the middle of the match, it will be suspended from the I-League for the current season and the following two seasons unless it is dubbed a ‘force majeure’.
If Ganguly rejects Mohun Bagan’s contention, the club should get a ban of two I-League seasons under the AIFF rules though it is not obligatory on the federation’s part to accept the retired Supreme Court Judge’s findings.
Mohun Bagan had refused to come out for the second half in the derby after Nabi was hit by a stone during the violence that erupted at the stands after their captain Okolie Odafa was red-carded by the referee for showing dissent.
A day after, Nabi underwent surgery on the cheekbone, which ruled out the India midfielder for at least six weeks.
The match was held up for about 15 minutes during the first half added time. Mohun Bagan, who were trailing 0-1, refused to turn up in the second half, forcing the match to be abandoned.
The FIFA rule states that 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, in this case, Mohun Bagan played out the stoppage time in the first half after Nabi was hit.