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I-League- Shillong Lajong vs Aizawl: Can The Historic North-East Derby Evade The Demons of Corrupt Practice?

Friday, 28 April 2017|Staff Reporter

Aizawl FC are gearing up to script their perfect fairy tale ending in Shillong, where they would just need a point to create history. And what better way to create history than in the North-East derby, infront of a sea of passionate fans. 

And with two North East teams involved, there is a feeling that the match might not be played in the true spirit of the game, with Lajong paving the way for Aizawl to lift the title.

Chances of foul play were taken into consideration by AIFF as they sent a vigilant officer to check any kind of suspicious activities from both the clubs. Considering the circumstances, it's a good move by AIFF. The Federation finally seems to be taking the league seriously and working to maintain its integrity.

However, football is a matter of life and death in the North East and no team under any circumstances want to lose. They might be friends off the pitch, but unlike rest of the country where the beautiful game unites, friends often get divided by football. There is no mercy on the football pitch.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is sending their Integrity Officer Javed Siraj a day earlier to Shillong to brief the players about the evils of this malpractice.

Meanwhile, Lajong squashed all doubts when they said they will not make it easy for AFC. Thangboi Singto, Head Coach of Shillong Lajong FC said that he won’t mind playing the villain on the day. “It’s a North East Derby and Aizawl FC haven’t won the title as yet,” Singto mentioned. “We won’t let them walk in and take away the title,” he declared.

Fans echoed the club’s sentiment and are not ready to move an inch. One FB post read, 

**** We are the 1st team from NE to:

• Qualify for I-League.

• Reach the final of the Federation Cup.

• Beat an oldest Football Club #SheffieldFC

• Champions of 2nd Divisions of I-League.

• Beat an A-League club #WellingtonPhoenixFC

• Win the NE Derby vs #UnitedSikkimFC

• To share an ISL Franchise team #NortheastUnitedFC

So we will not make #AizawlFC to be the 1st team from NE to become I-League Champions. I'll support Lajong on the 30th. No matter what the situation is. Only plastic fans will want Lajong to lose to Aizawl FC next week.

All fair at this point and with the vigilant doing his job, the question of invading the integrity of the game has been squashed.

But there are many unanswered questions left.

1. How much is AIFF seriously doing to ensure that the match is really played in the true spirit of the game?

2. What is AIFF doing to ensure that the highest standard of refereeing is followed? 

3. Who will ensure that Aizawl FC may not be a victim of the vested interest of many in the industry?

4. Aizawl becoming a champion is a big threat to the merger plans that AIFF and IMG-R have. They will stand in the way of IMG-R’s plan to convert ISL as the top league where Aizawl are not yet a part of the plan.

It could be the first time in world’s history of football that a top league champion would be demoted to the 2nd tier.  Even FIFA and AFC are also not likely to favour ISL to become the top league without having the league champions in it.

Meanwhile, Aizawl FC president Robert Royte has threatened to take the legal route, if they become the champions and are not allowed a place in the proposed top league.

Billions of rupees are riding to make Indian Super League the top league of the country and those counting the chickens even before being hatched would definitely not want a team running with a meagre budget of Rs 1.5 crore to play a spoilsport to their plan.

Considering the circumstances, any faulty decision by the referees, resulting in the defeat of Aizawl FC should also undergo a thorough investigation.