In a dirty game policy of the All Indian Football Federation, the recently concluded Santosh Trophy in the country openly challenges the FIFA code of conduct. The issue today farces the wrath and nation wide agitation against the organisers of the game. Earlier they are unaware of the consequences, but football lovers and innocent players strongly reacted to the game. It might turn out to be a political tussle among the concerned Indian states, affecting India in global sports too. The 17th November 2005 is the black Thursday in Manipur, where the quarterfinal match between Goa and Manipur played.
Today, the victimised state, Manipur is resolving what to do? Should they still play football (which does not follow FIFA) or should they relinquish from the Indian occupation to complete with Indian athletes in world competitions like the Olympics, the Commonwealth or the Asian Games? The unbiased and doctored quarterfinal match between Goa and Manipur which ended up in controversial draw 1-1, will spark the suppressed fire within Manipuri players. These players have been facing humiliations since the time India occupied them by force in 1949. Mongoloid in origin, the people of Manipur are excellent in sports like their brothers and sisters in Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. Long humiliations and partiality of the government has compelled these people to free themselves from India once and all!
Let the world knows how Manipuri are living in India and how they are facing humiliations everywhere since then! Manipur is the best team ever playing in the country so far. Without players from Manipur, football cannot be complete in India! This has jealous the progress and development of Manipur footballers throughout India.
The rule which have been in violation is about the start and restart of the game. In FIFA rulebook, there is a law number 8 which states,
“All players are in their own half of the field. The opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least 9.15 m (10 yards) from the ball until it is in play. The ball is stationary on the centre mark. The referee gives a signal. " The situation arises when Manipur player, Tomba’s marvellous goal bring joy at the wee hour of the match at 86 minute of the game. The indirect free kick that leads the match 1-0 was so superb that the TV crew replay it once. But when they resume to cover the match, there was an equaliser from the Goan side (just at 87 minute). The TV crew and the commentators had missed the restart of the match after the first goal. They never saw the restart, amazed with that the commentator shouts, “Did he restart the match?"
The Manipuri team were celebrating the fine bending of Tomba’s indirect goal. The players were complimenting each other, only to realise that the game had been restarted without their knowledge. Most of the Manipuri players are in the Goan side. According to FIFA, a match cannot be restarted until and unless both teams are in respective side. This must be realised by the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF), match referee and the organisers who are vying for a berth in World Cup. Why should FIFA voiceless when India openly challenges and humiliates them? FIFA should stringently question the organisers and the AIFF in particular why such violations when looking for a place in world cup?
In that match, the organisers and the match referee had violated every rule and conducts of the FIFA. This is a serious issue which need to consider why the Indian Football Federation not following FIFA. Are they snubbing the sanctum of laws voted by football playing countries? Or are they ignorant of those laws? Was it the direct humiliation of FIFA that football is played in India without proper norms and ethics of the game laid down by world bodies?
The matter might not be serious if a local meet or small villagers played football in their local home grounds. But it was a situation to select the best team in India, the only trophy that has been running for more than 6 decades. The 60th edition of Santosh Trophy at Kochi in Kerala is a black day in the world of sports. Reason being it involves a huge political lobbying to suppress a small state Manipur. The state has been under oppression from the Indian security forces since the day India had occupied it at gunpoint. Till then, the mainstream Indian looks at this state as step brotherly treatment.
And why should the state of Manipur be welcomed by India. They only occupied it to expand its political and geographical region. The people of Manipur never felt homely with the Indians. The large-scale violation of human rights, imposition of black laws and ill treatment by mainstream Indian hurts the very feeling of every Manipuri. Yet they always serve India as their own motherland without any bias and represent country in international sports. But the recent violation of FIFA code of conduct by the All Indian Football Federation sparks the anguish of the Manipuri. Things are becoming worst every moment politically.
What is disheartening is that the Manipuri team are feeling lonely and ditched by the whole country. They strongly felt that such unfair game policy would never favour them in future. Some players promised themselves never to touch the ball in their life. This is loss to footballers and the FIFA in broad sense. While FIFA is encouraging people to promote the game, some incompetent narrow-minded organisers and the match referees are obstructing the spirit of FIFA. FIFA need to intervene and question these organisers, even the concerned sports ministry for allowing such dirty game in the name of football.
Winning or losing is the common result of every game and the participating team should accept the fate of the game. Yes, the team Manipur accept the draw 1-1 on that unfaithful day. They won the heart of spectators, commentators and millions of viewers across TV telecast. They never took any unlawful way to defend their rights. With hands behind their back (only to control their anger), those players strongly opposed the decision of the match referee. Even the organisers used security power to silent the players. Disciplined players resumed the match. The game was ended in a draw, but with a hurting feeling of every Manipuri why India and AIFF humiliating them in the name of football.
What put oil in the burning fire is the news about taking further disciplinary action against the most talented, disciplined and innocent players who quietly resume the match on that day. Some of the saddest part of that match was that after the match was over, not a single official were present to discuss the issue. They succeed in their operation and hide themselves. When the chairman of the technical committee was contacted, he openly ignored the discussion. Who will deliver justice to the game? Not a single member of AIFF condemns the game that is filled with treachery and humiliations of the FIFA. Reactions and condemnation flooded the state media, but the national media ignored it. Nobody cares to condemn the high headedness of the organisers and the officials of AIFF.
National media becomes blind at this situation and they also prove to the people of Manipur that Manipuris are alien and it cannot be a part of India. If it was Bihar or Bengal, the whole country will shook with the after shock of the game. What can a poor state like Manipur do when the cabinet and ministries take the situation lightly? But the people of Manipur did not take the issue lightly. This is not the first and it won’t be the end of drama. A statewide agitation, protests and bandh are observing in the victimised Manipur. The whole state agitated and even threatened to boycott every game in the country. Manipur plays an active role in shaping the future of sports and games in India. Though a small tiny state, always won national awards and trophy in games and sports. Despite the ill treatment meted out to players on every occasion.
Today the whole people and the state are keeping their hope on foreign media and the FIFA to support them by strictly penalising the AIFF and even the match referee? This is the only hope every footballer is waiting. Who knows the decade long demand of freedom from Indian occupation will heighten from this event? The media have to play a crucial role in teaching the AIFF how to play football fairly and in true spirit!
A copy of this article has been submitted to FIFA as a mark of protest, on behalf of the people of Manipur.
Mohen Naorem is currently working as Assistant Editor in http://www.efenbeonline.com His other work can be read at http://www.mohennaorem.com