Kerala/Srinagar, Dec 14: Real Kashmir FC Friday said they were hurled abuses and manhandled by officials of Gokulam Kerala, who “deprived” the visitors of training facilities ahead of their I-League game in Kozhikode.
Lying third after a sensational start to their maiden season in top-flight, Real Kashmir are scheduled to face seventh-placed Gokulam Kerala at the EMS Corporation Stadium on Saturday. Real Kashmir even threatened to pull out of the game if they are not provided police protection.
The visiting Real Kashmir issued a statement, giving the sequence of events.
“An unfortunate incident happened today morning in Kozhikode in Kerala when the coach and other members of RKFC were abused and heckled by officials of Gokulam Kerala FC,” the Kashmir club said in a statement.
“As per protocol, the home team is supposed to provide a ground two days ahead of the main game for practice. However, RKFC was deprived of that. This morning no transport was provided to ferry the team from hotel to the ground and when they managed to reach themselves, the home team officials prevented physically from entering the ground,” it added in the statement.
Real Kashmir go into the match after a thumping 6-1 win against ShillongLajong at home.
They further said, “Abuses were hurled at the team members including their coach and finally the RKFC members were asked to leave the ground and stay indoors till the match tomorrow with Gokulam Kerala FC.
“There was no team bus, no proper training ground was provided by the host Gokulam Kerala FC, which is a mandatory requirement as per the guidelines of the I-League.”
This is Real Kashmir’s first season in the I-League after winning the second division last year while this is the second season when Gokulam are playing in the competition.
“We condemn the treatment that has been met by our team members who have been asked to stay inside the hotel till tomorrow’s game.
“Our coach and staff was abused by the officials of Gokulam Kerala FC. We need police protection and assurance that none of our players or staff members will be harmed. If we feel threatened, we may not play the game tomorrow. The matter has been taken up with appropriate authorities of law enforcement agencies as well as football federation,” said Real Kashmir.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has demanded safety of the team.
“Have been told @realkashmirfcare facing numerous difficulties down south in the run up to their clash against Gokulam Kerala FC to the point where they are unsure they will be safe playing tomorrow. Request local authorities to intervene to ensure safety of players & staff”.
On their part, Gokulam Kerala FC issued a clarification and alleged “poor and irresponsible
behaviour by Real Kashmir FC.
Gokulam also took to Twitter to issue a clarification. Gokulam said that they had arranged for a bus for the club officials to the Medical College training ground — a bus they “never took” for training at Medical College.
Gokulam said that Real Kashmir invaded the EMS stadium where training a day before the match is not allowed. Gokulam also alleged that Real Kashmir officials manhandled the groundsman and used foul language.
“Today is ‘Harthal’ (Strike) organised by a political party. After a long previous night of arrangements to get the transport for both the teams, we managed to send the bus for RKFC. Medical college ground was booked for RKFCs training,” Gokulam wrote on their twitter handle.
“Before the bus arrived, RKFCs officials who are staying in a nearby hotel invaded the EMS Stadium, where training a day before the match is not allowed by any MC. To keep this in track, we refused to let them train in the EMS.
“RKFC officials stormed the FOP and manhandled the groundsman and threw his phone away when he tried to capture what Mr. Robertson and his club members tried to do.”