Players injured in abandoned Shield final

Several players injured in the violence-hit final of the 107th IFA Shield football tournament which was abandoned midway yesterday.

updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Three policemen and several players were injured as the violence-hit final of the 107th IFA Shield football tournament between holders East Bengal and fancied Brazilian outfit Palmeiras was abandoned midway here yesterday. East Bengal coach Manoranjan Bhattacharjee said four of his players - Jo Paul Ancheri, Jackson Egyopyong, Dipankar Roy and Anit Ghosh - sustained injuries in clashes with the Brazilian players during the Salt Lake stadium match, which had to be abruptly terminated 35 minutes into the first half. However, the exact number of Palmeiras players injured in the clashes and the subsequent police action was not available as the law and order authorities cordoned off the visitors and did not allow anyone to go near them. The match, which had seen tension and frayed tempers soar on the grounds from the start, saw violence flare up in the 35th minute with the Brazilians ahead 1-0. Palmeiras's Marcao brought down Jackson who immediately retaliated. A number of Brazilian players rushed in and started beating up the Ghanaian prompting several East Bengal footballers, led by Joe Paul Ancheri to join in the action. Soon, Palmeiras officials also entered the ground, turning it into a virtual battlefield. Police had to rush in and separate the rival teams. As the Brazilians continued their aggressiveness, some of them got beaten up by the police, and their coach Humberto Ferreira led his players out and locked themselves inside the dressing room. After waiting for 20 minutes, match commissioner M K Krishnamurthy announced the abandonment of the tie. Police also had to resort to a mild lathicharge to control the irate spectators, who pelted stones to express their disgust with the Brazilians' behaviour. Indian Football Association secretary Ranjit Gupta said that the fate of the match would be decided tomorrow after receiving the report from the match commissioner. Union Minister of state for Commerce and Industries Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who was present on the ground, later lambasted the police for 'mishandling' the situation. ''The skirmish could have been avoided. Instead of handling the situation properly, the police only beat up the Brazilians''. He said that he had met the Brazilian officials and apologized for the police action. The East Bengal players, who had agreed to take part in the match after initial reluctance for having played an energy sapping semi-final against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan yesterday, waited on the turf as hectic parleys were on to make the Brazilians see reason. ''We were willing to continue,'' Bhattacharjee said. With spectators baying for the blood of the Brazilians, the visitors were escorted by the police to the middle of the ground till the stadium compound was cleared. The incident comes only two days after the Palmeiras officials and players got involved in another unsavoury episode when they came to blows with their counterparts from Bangladeshi club Mukti Joddha at the Howrah stadium soon after winning the semi-final match. Some spectators and a scribe were injured as lathiwielding policemen charged at the excited crowd triggering a stampede-like situation at the Howrah Stadium. (PTI)