Sunday’s Kolkata Derby between I-League champions Mohun Bagan and arch-rivals East Bengal will most likely be played in an empty Salt Lake stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other remaining 28 matches of the I-League are most likely to follow the same route. The AIFF, however, will hold a meeting with the I-League clubs on Friday before announcing a final decision.
“Tickets are no longer available for the derby so we can say that there is a high possibility that the match will most likely be played in a closed stadium,” AIFF sources told the indianexpress.com.
“All the stakeholders will have a chat tomorrow before coming to a final conclusion.”
However, senior East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar told this website that the red and gold brigade will not play in an empty stadium. “We cannot play the derby in an empty stadium. The match can be postponed because the government has shut down activities for a month. So I expect that the match can be held after accessing the situation after 30 days. But no way the derby can be played in an empty stadia.”
The development comes after the Sports Ministry’s advisory to all national federations to follow the Health Ministry’s advisory and avoid large gatherings in sports events.
“Ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event. In the event the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done wihout allowing the gathering of people, including spectators,” read an order from the Sports ministry.
Mohun Bagan have already clinched the I-League title on Tuesday with four rounds still to be played but the official said the remaining matches cannot be cancelled.
The first leg of the derby was won by Mohun Bagan 2-1.