Arun Ghosh

Indian football legend PK Banerjee hits out at FIFA LOC

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-21 at 17.10.14
Kolkata: Indian football legend PK Banerjee lashed out at the FIFA LOC in a press conference as he felt that the top former players like Shyam Thapa, Mohammed Habib, Prasun Banerjee & Subhas Bhowmick were not honoured by the organizers during the opening game of the FIFA U17 World Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at New Delhi on October 6.

He also hit out at the local organising committee for adopting a 'lottery system' to distribute tickets among former footballers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had felicitated the greats of Indian football including Banerjee, IM Vijayan, Bhaichuing Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, Bhaskar Ganguly and Bembem Devi.

"It's a huge loss of faith for Indian football community. In cricket we all know about the star players. But footballers are habitually ignored. How will the football's popularity grow if such is the attitude," Banerjee said at a news conference at his residence, on the eve of the high-voltage Brazil-Germany quarterfinal.

Banerjee mentioned the names of his brother Prasun Banerjee, Shyam Thapa, Arun Ghosh, Subhas Bhowmick, Mohammad Habib and Sudhir Karmakar and urged the LOC to felicitate them during the final here on October 28. Though it was only the Asian Games Captains who got felicitated on the opening day of the competition, Banerjee's comments forced the LOC to reply with an immediate press release.

"I'm not naming Prasun just because he's my brother. He was one of Asia's top footballers and the first Indian footballer to enter the Parliament. If someone as notable as Prasun is ignored, you may think of others... "What would be the motivation left for the next generation to sacrifice all their lives for the sake of Indian football? I'm saying this not just for the sake of Bengal, or the country but for the entire youth community who are taking up football."

He also said it's shameful that the LOC is distributing tickets with a lottery system for the final.

"It's truly shameful that the stars of yesteryears are given tickets by a lottery system. Of course the common people deserve to watch the final but one must never forget the past and the contribution of these former footballers."

In reply the FIFA LOC came out with a statement, which said, "It has been brought to our notice certain displeasure from a sector of former players with regard to their recognition within the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

For the small ceremony on October 6 in New Delhi, there was a clear criteria for players to be felicitated, which was that they had to have captained Indian Teams in a Senior or U-23 Continental Championship or Olympic Games. All players who met the criteria were invited to New Delhi. This was the only approach to avoid any subjectivity on the selection. It´s important to note that this is the first time in the history of the FIFA U-17 World Cup that an LOC has taken the initiative to felicitate former players of the Host Country as a part of a Ceremony at the stadium. This was done as an extremely special case and the whole football fraternity in India should be very proud of this step, as Indian Legends were shown to the world and the past of the game was honored.

About complimentary tickets for former players, an allocation has been reserved at all the venues for former legends of the game and are being handed out to the State Associations. It is the duty of the State Association to identify the former players and to hand them out tickets for the matches. In the case of Kolkata, 85 tickets per matchday are being given to IFA so that they can establish a system of distribution for this. It is solely the decision of the State Association how they are distributed and who gets them.

The LOC of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 have always taken steps to honor the legends of the game from India in every activity we have undertaken, from inviting 5 captains to the #IndiaTakesOver launch in 2015 to giving the first ticket of the Tournament to the family of 1911 Mohun Bagan captain and even felicitating former players for the inauguration of the Event in Delhi.

We will keep appreciating and respecting the former Indian footballing Legends the same way we have done it so far, which is akin to their stature."

Manwhile Jharkhand has started a football tournament by the name of legendary PK Banerjee and he was requested to be present over there, which he couldn't. Though the legend said,"I will try to be present in that competition from the next season.

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