Hartal triggers I-League row between Gokulam, Real Kashmir FC

The Medical College Ground was fixed as the practice ground for both Gokulam FC and Real Kashmir FC.

Kozhikode: The BJP-sponsored hartal in the state has triggered an uneasy controversy involving two I-League teams – Real Kashmir FC and Gokulam FC – prompting even former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah to take sides.

The row over training ground and a delay in picking up the visiting team for morning practice have now gone viral on the internet with rival teams taking it to social media to vent their anger.

The match is scheduled to be held on Saturday at the EMS Corporation Stadium, the home ground of Gokulam FC.

Real Kashmir FC first posted on its official Twitter handle alleging that team officials were ill-treated by GokulamFC officials.

Real Kashmir FC also posted a video of the incident and alleged that the team was asked to leave the ground.

However, Gokulam FC officials said the Real Kashmir FC was allotted the Medical College Ground from 10 am for practise. The bus to pick up Real Kashmir FC players to the ground got delayed due to hartal and reached the spot at 10.06 am, they claim.

The agitated Real Kashmir FC players reportedly barged into the match venue.

“Instead of waiting for the bus, the players and the officials barged into the stadium, hurling abuses,” Gokulam officials said.

In his tweet, Omar Abdullah requested local authorities to intervene in the issue to ensure safety of Real Kashmir FC players and staff.

Officials of the host team alleged that Gokulam FC CEO Ashok Kumar and Kozhikode District Football Association official Hammeed were manhandled.

Gokulam FC has also lodged a complaint to the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

“There was a slight delay in taking the players to Medical college ground, due to hartal, but the reaction from Real Kashmir FC players was not expected to this magnitude,” liaison officer Muhammed Aslam said.

Stadium officials point out that the match commissioner was the custodian of the ground and it was his discretion to allot practice grounds to teams.

Match commissioner Sanjay Kumar reportedly asked Real Kashmir FC to utilise a corner of the stadium and not on the main ground.

Despite the uneasy row, Gokulam FC spokesperson confirmed the match would not held at the scheduled time.

Real Kashmir is in the third spot in the league with 13 points while Gokulam in the seventh place with nine points.

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