Minerva Punjab refuse to play against Real Kashmir FC
by Chirag R Bhattad
I-league, Real Kashmir and Minerva Punjab are embroiled in a twitter battle, with the former confirming Real Kashmir’s home fixture set to take place on Monday, 18th February. The match was set to take place in Srinagar, but in light of the recent suicide bombing by Jaish e Mohammed, Minerva Punjab’s club president had shown concern for the safety of his players.
The club had asked for a written guarantee from the Srinagar police and I-league ensuring the safety of their players and staff. Meanwhile, the club also stated that their foreign players were advised against traveling to Srinagar for the game by their respective embassies.
It all began with a tweet by Real Kashmir confirming that the game was set to go ahead according to schedule:
We have a go ahead from authorities for Monday’s game against @minervapunjabfc. Hope to see them and @THE_RanjitBajaj in Srinagar tomm.
Let’s play to heal.@ILeagueOfficial"
I-league’s official twitter account responded to this tweet with a positive gusto:
“Kudos to @realkashmirfc, @minervapunjabfc and @THE_RanjitBajaj for showing the right spirit. Football prevails above all. Let's play to heal.
To this, Ranjit Bajaj and Minerva Punjab’s official twitter handle replied with shock and bewilderment. Here are the two replies by Minerva Punjab’s official twitter account:
"Have been waiting for promised written assurances from authorities since yesterday and still not received. We would love to play to heal in a safe environment but unfortunately no is willing to give anything in writing. @realkashmirfc @ILeagueOfficial #RKMPFC #PulwamaAttack"
“Hello!! We have NOT agreed to travel to Kashmir as we are still waiting for promised written assurances from authorities!!!!!! This tweet is surprising considering you are fully aware of the developments. #StandWithForces #PulwamaAttacks @ILeagueOfficial"
Ranjit Bajaj also spoke out using his private account to make sure that the world knew about their discontent with the alleged fake news with the following two tweets. He also outlined the reasoning behind the formal assurance required to assure his foreign players to travel for the game:
“we have been waiting for you guys to reply and send us the promised written assurances of our safety being guaranteed as we are primarily an armed forces training institute & proudly wear “saluting the Indian armed forces”on our shirt we would love to play 2 heal in safety”
“@ILeagueOfficial my EU players & new US based player have Been issued travel advisories by their embassies in india NOT to travel to J&k unless essential/how do I convince the foreigners to go 2Srinagar if their embassies R advising against it @minervapunjabfc @realkashmirfc"
While it is not clear if the game will actually go ahead, the circus that this confusion and resulted in shows just how powerless I-league is in ensuring that their games go ahead according to schedule. While Real Kashmir confirmed the tie, Minerva Punjab refuted that the tie has got the green light. Meanwhile, the I-league’s official twitter handle was playing catch-up on the official information.
Whatever happens from here-on, the safety of the players is of utmost importance. And if Srinagar officials cannot ensure the safety, then the match should rightly be rescheduled to a later date.