The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is willing to re-look into its rule book after Mohun Bagan appealed against the two-year ban slapped on it by the game's supreme body for abandoning an I-League match midway against East Bengal.
The AIFF executive committee will meet here Tuesday to consider Mohun Bagan's appeal. What may go in favour of Mohun Bagan is that the executive committee also remains divided over the ban.
On the eve of the meeting, AIFF secretary general Kushal Das told IANS: "Football is governed by a set of rules. Some time rules can be harsh. The executive committee has been given the powers to look into the decision."
Mohun Bagan were disqualified from this season and also have been banned from the next two editions of the I-League as well. They have to play to second division I-League to qualify for the top division.
Asked if the AIFF was considering to amend its rule book if they were found too harsh, Das said: "Obviously we will look into them. This is the first time that such an incident has happened. Now we have a case where a club cannot play top-flight football for four years and also we want more corporate teams in the I-League. So, somewhere there is a disconnect."
Citing past incidents, Mohun Bagan has said that Churchill Brothers got away without playing a match against East Bengal in the erstwhile National Football League (NFL).
Mohun Bagan secretary Anjan Mitra said that in the past teams have got away after abandoning the match.
"During a NFL match match Churchill Brothers refused to take the field against East Bengal. The club got away easily. But on Dec 9 (at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata) we had a massive crowd trouble, and players were not feeling safe. Our key player Syed Rahim Nabi got injured and also had to undergo an operation," Mitra told IANS on phone from Kolkata.
Das, however, said that rules of the NFL were different from I-League.
"Though the NFL has been re-christened as the I-League, the tournament rules were different. And in that match Churchill refused to take the field. But Mohun Bagan had abandoned the match midway," said Das.
Mitra hoped that the AIFF executive committee will look into its appeal and arrive to a logical conclusion.
"I am hopeful that the AIFF will look into our appeal and come to a favourable conclusion. It will be a massive blow for Indian football if Mohun Bagan stays out of elite level for four years," he said.
The AIFF executive committee also remains divided over the harsh decision slapped on Mohun Bagan.
AIFF vice-president Srinivas Dempo, also chairman of Dempo, feels that the two-year ban is harsh. "The ban is effectively for four years. That's too hard," he said.
Lasing Ming, another AIFF vice-president and Shillong Lajong general secretary, feels that it would be a shame to have a league without Mohun Bagan.
"But if a club has broken rules, it should be made to pay for it," he said.
Mohun Bagan were trailing 0-1 against their arch-rivals in the Kolkata derby when Nabi, in the 43rd minute, was hit on the face by a stone hurled from the crowd at the packed Salt Lake Stadium held Dec 9.
Police had to lathi-charge to bring a 95,000 strong crowd under control. Play resumed after 15 minutes but Mohun Bagan refused to come out in the second half and play.