Minerva Punjab’s petition challenging the AIFF’s refusal to postpone their I-League match against Real Kashmir FC in Srinagar is expected to come up for hearing on Friday at the Delhi High court, the club’s lawyers said Tuesday, insisting that the team’s “well-founded” fears have been ignored.
Minerva did not show up for their clash against a ready RKFC in Srinagar on Monday after asserting that the home club and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) failed in providing written security assurances in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.
The I-League defending champions filed a writ petition at the Delhi High court, challenging AIFF’s refusal to either move the match to some other venue or postpone it, on Monday itself.
Amitabh Tiwari, the counsel for Minerva, said the club will not object if the court directs it to first go to the I-League committee to sort out the issue. “If the AIFF wants to settle the case at the court on the day of hearing, we are fine. But if the court directs us to first go to the I-League committee and see if it is possible to sort out the matter there, we will do so,” Tiwari told PTI.
In the petition, Minerva has accused the AIFF of acting arbitrarily and said the AIFF’s rejection of its request to postpone the match was against the principles of equity and are violative of the I-League regulations 2018-19 and the FIFA Safety Guidelines.
“The AIFF is acting arbitrarily and without reason as earlier in the month the match between Real Kashmir FC and East Bengal was postponed on account of snow whereas the present situation is much more serious and lives of the players and the spectators are at risk,” the petition said.
“Minerva’s fears are well-founded and a request to postpone the match by 2 weeks would not affect any party especially in light of the fact that it has been done before for completely avoidable reasons.”
The Punjab club also said the AIFF has not taken into account the e-mails sent by them wherein they have categorically stated that the international players on their roster have been advised by their respective countries to not travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“If AIFF can postpone the match with East Bengal due to snow then they should have taken the lead and postponed the match for 7-10 days,” said the petition.
“It’s ironical that the entire world plays football on snow but on that pretext the match with East Bengal was postponed by almost 3 weeks. The decision smacks of hypocrisy on AIFF’s part. The decision of AIFF not to postpone the match is akin to forcing the players and spectators to play Russian Roulette with their lives.”
The AIFF has not yet called the match a forfeiture by Minerva and has referred the matter to its I-League Committee. As per FIFA rules, a forfeiture leads to the awarding of full points to teh side which shows up, in this case Real Kashmir.
The entire sequence of events is a fallout of Thursday’s attack in which at least 40 CRPF paramilitary troopers were killed while several others injured. It has been termed the deadliest terrorist strike in three decades in Jammu and Kashmir.