East Bengal’s remarkable victory against NorthEast United FC in the Durand Cup semifinal was overshadowed by allegations of racism, with the visiting team fans reporting instances of racial slurs and being targeted with stones and slippers during the match. The 16-time champions exhibited one of the greatest comebacks as they overturned a two-goal deficit in the last two minutes and secured a thrilling 5-3 victory in penalties to make the Durand Cup final after 19 years.
However, the scenes that unfolded after the match painted a grim picture as the NEUFC fans, numbering about 100-odd, claimed that the supporters of the Red and Gold brigade aimed projectiles and slurs at them. The match witnessed an attendance of about 22,000-plus spectators.
Such was the condition that immediate intervention by the Indian Army and local police was required to ensure safe exit of NorthEast United FC supporters.
However there has been no official complaint regarding the alleged incident as yet.
The All India Football Federation secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran, however, has promised action.
“Saddened to read this. We will take up this matter. We have a zero tolerance on this. We have to do everything possible to completely eliminate these kinds of issues from Indian football,” Prabhakaran posted on his social media platform ‘X’, formerly twitter.
Both the the teams, meanwhile, have condemned the alleged incident.
“NorthEast United FC are deeply disturbed by the recent incident of racism, hooliganism & violence directed towards some of our fans during the Durand Cup semi-final match against East Bengal FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday. Racism has no place in football, or in any aspect of life, and we unequivocally condemn such behaviour,” NEUFC said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our fans are an integral part of our team, and we stand united against any form of discrimination. We have already brought this matter to the attention of the tournament organisers, and the local officials.
“We’d like to thank the Indian Army and the local police officials for taking swift action against the perpetrators. We are also grateful to them for providing adequate protection to our fans and escorting them to their desired location.” East Bengal added: “East Bengal FC condemns all forms of racism. there is no room for discrimination in football, a sport that unites people.” Indian Army, who are the organisers of Asia’s oldest tournament, is yet to come out with any statement.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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