Former I-League champions Minerva Punjab did not take the field against FC Pune City on Friday for their Super Cup qualifier, with the ongoing issue regarding unfair treatment from the All India Football Federation not being resolved. \
In the other match of the day, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill starred in goal for the Indian Arrows who registered a 2-0 win over ISL club Kerala Blasters and earned a berth in the round of 16 of the tournament.
Minerva, yesterday, had boycotted the pre-match conference and was slammed by AIFF for “blatant disregard” to the tournament rules. As per the schedule, Minerva were scheduled to play Indian Super League franchise FC Pune City on the opening day of the qualifiers.
A cloud of uncertainty now hangs over the fate of the tournament with a total of eight I-League clubs announcing they have pulled out. Minerva’s decision casts a shadow on the two qualifiers on Saturday as Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala have also threatened to pull out of their respective matches. Both teams are in Bhubaneshwar for the event.
The AIFF had earlier warned the Chandigarh-based club that the “rules and regulations of the tournament will be invoked” if they withdraw from their encounter against Pune.
The I-League clubs had written a letter to the AIFF in February regarding the future of the league but they are “yet to hear back” from the federation, PTI had reported.
Minerva also highlighted how the AIFF has “not provided any financial assistance to the participating teams” despite having a title sponsor for the event. With no AFC competitions also on offer, the club felt the competition lacked any incentive for the teams.
The Super Cup is a knockout tournament between Indian Super League teams and I-League sides to be held in Bhubaneswar, with the qualifiers starting from March 15. The final is slated to be held on April 13.
Aizawl FC said that they will not play against Chennaiyin FC on Saturday.
“As of now, we are not going to play against Chennaiyin on Saturday. Nothing has come from the side of the AIFF and it seems nothing is going to happen also. We (eight clubs) will remain united and we will take a collective decision,” Aizawl FC’s Technical Director and Team Manager D Hmingthana said.
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said Minerva’s decision to boycott the match would harm the game in the country.
“There may be differences (with the clubs and the AIFF) but to boycott a football match because of the differences is crazy and not acceptable. It is not a right move and will harm football in the country,” Das told PTI.
“I would encourage the clubs to compete in the tournament for the sake of football in the country,” he added.