Guwahati | February 13, 2018
Reigning national football champions of India, Aizawl FC, have been left red-faced after pictures of the club’s U-15 team sitting on the floor during a train journey from Kolkata to Guwahati made the rounds on social media on Sunday.
The team was returning from Goa after losing to eventual champions Minerva Punjab FC in the semi-finals of the Nike Premier Cup, the national U-15 competition.
While returning, they took two trains, from Goa to Kolkata and from there to Guwahati.
However, the second train ride was anything but smooth as the club – reigning I-League champions – failed to get confirmed tickets for all players. Fellow passengers posted pictures on social media, which showed some of the young players sitting on the floor near the toilets.
It drew sharp criticism from many fans on Twitter and Facebook.
Aizawl FC club president Robert Royte claimed he wasn’t aware of the players’ plight at the time of their journey.
“What happened was really unfortunate. I have been told they were just waiting for a little over half-an-hour for allocation of their seats. The pictures circulating on social media were clicked just at the start of their journey. They had three-tier AC tickets, majority of which were confirmed. The TTE had asked them to wait for some time before he could settle them,” he said.
Royte added he had promised the team direct flight tickets from Kolkata to Aizawl if they won the U-15 tournament, but after their semi-final defeat, they advanced their journey back home.
“I promised them (air) travel from Kolkata to Aizawl if they became champions of the U-15 I-League, and they were quite a determined side also. But the semi-final against Minerva ended in a draw and they lost in the tie-breaker. Because of that, they had to advance their travel. They were thinking they would be travelling by air from Kolkata to Aizawl,” he added.
Kushal Das, general secretary of the All India Football Federation, said the onus of booking tickets for players was on the club.
“The AIFF gives travelling allowance to all teams and the tickets are booked by the clubs/teams themselves. AIFF does not book tickets directly,” he said.
Source: Hindustan Times