East Bengal on Saturday wrote to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) seeking foreign referees and a panel of match observers for their potential title-deciding clash against Minerva Punjab on February 13.
“The match will possibly decide the eventual winners of the I-League 2017-18. However there are certain serious concerns for all East Bengal supporters, members and officials,” East Bengal secretary Kalyan Majumdar wrote in his mail to AIFF general secretary Kushal Das.
“A panel of two or more additional AIFF match observers and referee assessors should be appointed for his crucial game to ensure that the game is conducted in a fair manner.
“Such panel can comprise of ex-Indian players who are experienced and have played similar crunch matches in the past.”
The mail further said that the Red and Golds have been at the “receiving end of several questionable decisions” earlier.
“There are possibilities that such situations may occur on February 13. We fear that an Indian referee may be subjected to stress conditions which will impair his ability to conduct the game in an unbiased manner,” he said.
“We would sincerely appreciate if the match is conducted by a reputed team of referee and assistant referees of foreign origin. There has been earlier instances in our matches where such ‘special matches’ were conducted by Internationally reputed referees of foreign origin keeping the best interest and spirit of the game.”
Minerva owner Ranjit Bajaj had previously flagged match fixing claims. The letter also mentioned this.
“His (Ranjit Bajaj) allegations are very serious in nature if found to be true. However if they are are baseless and false, then he and the other concerned should be seriously reprimanded or suspended,” Majumdar wrote citing example of their captain Arnab Mondal’s ‘racial discrimination’ case.
“AIFF had acted with surprising alacrity against him which resulted in his suspension and penalty. AIFF should ensure that the pre match environment is ambient and conducive for a fair match and the game is played in true spirit and competition.”
Minerva are six points clear of third placed East Bengal to lead the standings with five matches to go.