It was almost a matter of when as one could sense the frustration building on day by day amongst the East Bengal supporters due to the issues between the club officials and their sponsors, which could or rather might result in a club like East Bengal being away from not only ISL but any footballing activities for one long year and much more. It was finally today that the barriers were broken, and thousands of fans assembled to protest against the club officials.
Around 3 pm, people from various East Bengal fan clubs and even those who aren’t into any fan clubs, United as one to protest against the club officials. The root of the protest, in short, being, the club officials not signing the term sheet with Shree Cement, which not only closed down the club’s hopes to play in the ISL but also will ensure that East Bengal will not be allowed to participate in any tournament for the season and might also be relegated to the 2nd Division of Calcutta Football League, which would be no less than a shame for the vast fan base of the year-old Club from Kolkata.
We also had a conversation with few fans involved in the protest and few members of the East Bengal Ultras. They said, “Our main motive was to talk to the officials or at least allow some of our protestors to have a conversation with the club officials“. We further asked them their demands on which they let us know that “The only demand, we had is SIGN and RESIGN. We don’t care who stays in the club or who doesn’t, we just want the club officials to respect the agreement which we made in front of our honourable Chief Minister, and sign the term sheet or else we would be happy enough to see them resign“
Although it might be interesting to know what made the club officials decide against signing the term sheet with Shree Cement even after knowing all that’s waiting for them? Digging deeper into the story, one might find more prominent aspects to look for. What can be said is that Shree Cement had and wanted further rights over not only East Bengal Football Club but the entire East Bengal Club. In addition, the terms and conditions would lead to Shree Cement holding majority power and ownership of the club, which was initially, with the officials who are in some way or the other related to the roots and are East Bengal fans themselves.
The 100-year-old club isn’t like just another club that has built a fan base over the years, but it is the opposite scenario out here. It is a regional division, and the people do not select a club to support but are born as supporters into the club. In other words, the club represents the people of East Bengal or the “Bangals”, as they say, and is their face to the Footballing world and not just a mere club that people chose to support. Hence, it is understandable how much it means for the people out there and how important the club role-plays in their lives.
Sentiments are overflowing, and the voices are rising high because it is Unanimous that the entire fan base wants one thing in standard irrespective of who and how that they want their Mother Club to play the top league in Indian Football and not end up to shame by being denied playing rights due to the internal battles in the club.
People gathered in numbers in front of the Eden Gardens Stadium, Kolkata and the East Bengal club tent to protest against the officials in demand of signing the term sheet and allowing the club to play in the Indian Super League’s coming edition along with a heated up frustration demanding for Debabrata Sarkar aka Nitu, and other officials to resign. Placards and posters were out, and chants were buzzing around, but the officials didn’t much appreciate it.
Police forces were down to action to control the crowd and eventually ended up being brutal as they started hitting the people resulting in many people being hurt and injured. A scenery no one would have liked to watch and appreciate. Emotions flowing all over while results still awaited. The match ended unfairly, but the demands were precise. Media and News channels had it all over.
When asked about it, one of the fans said that “Police charged us in an attempt to control the crowd but had barricades well away from the club tent. Many were injured and almost 12 were arrested. It wasn’t right according to us because our protest was not against the government, but a club fraternity, and hence it was totally not appreciated“.
In addition to all the chaos, to much surprise, we also saw a few fans getting close to the club tent, instead of the barriers created by the Police. Few of the protestors said, “Even after Police put up barricades at quite some distance from the club, there were a good number of people near the club and even we do not know how they went in or who they were“. Some added on with surprising statements, “They went in through the police barricade when others were not allowed”.
No one knows what’s the actual story and it’s all still shady and uncertain about what’s the future. We were hoping for a possible solution after the long day, but the words of a fan club member sums it all up, as he said, “Apparently there is no solution, neither the Club officials nor Shree Cement is ready to move from their decisions but all we want is our club to play in the ISL“.
Only time will say whether East Bengal will join hands with Shree Cement or if they will continue in the ISL this season or is there another big twist left in the story. Questions remain, as the fans search for answers, in frustration, hope and belief.
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