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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

‘Only cricket can restart in India if Bundesliga rules are followed’: Bhaichung Bhutia

For the purpose of resumption of sports, Bhaichung Bhutia agreed that playing in empty stadiums is the need of the hour. "The show must go on," said the former India captain.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: May 29, 2020 4:27:27 pm
Bhaichung Bhutia has been spending the last two months alone in Siliguri. (Source: PTI Photo)

Bhaichung Bhutia believes that with the resumption of sporting activities all around the world there’s hope for a similar move in India but it might be restricted to just one sport — cricket.

Since mid-May, a host of competitions have made their way back into the pandemic scene, like Bundesliga, K-League, Danish Superliga in football, Vincy Premier League in cricket, the All-Czech tournament in tennis and so on.

When the former India captain was asked about his opinion about the restart of sports, Bhutia told Hindustan Times, “That will depend on rules governments frame but if the testing protocols of Bundesliga and K-League are to be followed, maybe only cricket can restart given the cost involved.”

Germany’s Bundesliga restarted on May 16 amidst a plethora of health protocols which included the league paying for around 25,000 coronavirus tests on players and staff. All the matches so far have also taken place in empty stadiums with just 300 people present at the venue.

Bhutia added that he can’t imagine how it would have felt scoring the famous 1997 Federation Cup semi-final hattrick against Mohun Bagan without the 1.31 lakh people in the Salt Lake Stadium.

“Never imagined something like that. The thing about that hattrick was the presence of people. That made it memorable, made the biggest moment of my entire football career,” said the 43-year-old.

“But given the situation we are in, I would have accepted an empty stadium for that match. The show must go on… even if it means players don’t get that extra 15, 20% josh from a full house.”

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Bhutia, a former head of the Technical Committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) indicated his support for the newly-recommended foreign player reduction rule in the domestic leagues. But, he still believes that there’s work that needs to be done.

“The way to do it [improve] is to have more teams. Our season should begin early September and end late April. We also need a cup competition where a second division team to play an ISL team. The AIFF needs to push for this,” he said.

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