I-League 2018-19: Club officials of Gokulam Kerala and Real Kashmir FC get into ugly spat
SATURDAY'S MATCH BETWEEN Gokulam Kerala FC and Real Kashmir FC is off to a contentious start with a controversy erupting between the two clubs more than a day before the game.
Debutants Real Kashmir FC who are currently third on the league table with 13 points from 7 matches are making their first trip to Kozhikode to play their away fixture against Gokulam Kerala FC (9 points from 7 games).
But the visiting contingent is not happy with the arrangements, and they made it clear on social media earlier today. Earlier this morning, they tweeted alleging that hosts GKFC had failed to provide them a bus to the training ground and their officials, including head coach David Robertson, was abused by local club officials.
SHAME! RKFC officials including head coach David Robertson abused by @GokulamKeralaFC officials. No bus for training. No training ground. Matter reported to @ILeagueOfficial. But no way to treat guests. And they call it god’s own country.— Real Kashmir FC (@realkashmirfc) December 14, 2018
The Real Kashmir FC twitter handle further posted videos of the players training on a tiny patch of grass at the side of the EMS Stadium.
Does this look like a training ground??? Team @realkashmirfc had to train on this dump as no ground or transport provided for training today in Calicut.@ILeagueOfficial pic.twitter.com/OK0G4qi1Ed— Real Kashmir FC (@realkashmirfc) December 14, 2018
A video showing the RKFC officials being asked to leave the premises by local club officials was also posted.
RKFC head coach and staff being asked to leave training ground. ‘This is Kerala not Kashmir’ @realkashmirfc told. Strange. pic.twitter.com/kTjkqC1bEv— Real Kashmir FC (@realkashmirfc) December 14, 2018
That the interactions between the two clubs' personnel had already reached a considerable level of bitterness became clear when Rajah Rizwan, first team manager of GKFC, posted a counter-allegation saying the Real Kashmir coach David Robertson had abused local staff and even threatened them.
Maybe Real Kashmir admin is not man enough to post the actual thing which is their head coach david robertson showing his real culture by calling our 62 year old LGC “fucking asshole bastard”. And followed by threaten “come to kashmir we will show what is really happening there”— Rajah Rizwan (@rajahrizwan) December 14, 2018
According to Rizwan, the bus to the training ground arrived late because of a political strike going on in Kerala. But before the vehicle arrived, the Real Kashmir FC contingent had entered the EMS Stadium without permission and started to practice at a warm up area next to the main pitch. This led to the ground staff protesting them, which led to an exchange of heated words. Rizwan further alleged that the Real Kashmir staff had "manhandled GKFC's LGC" and stopped a groundsman from taking video of the incident.
You know how fierce it is when bjp conducts a hartal. But still bus was managed to reach. Before that itself the so called “Innocent” people invaded the stadium and FOP and then manhandled GKFC’s LGC. Then threw the phone of groundsman who was trying to capture it.— Rajah Rizwan (@rajahrizwan) December 14, 2018
According to Real Kashmir FC the matter has been reported to the All India Football Federation, and it remains to be seen what the possible investigation in this matter by the Federation will reveal.
Gokulam Kerala FC and Real Kashmir FC are set to face each other on 15th December at 5 pm, in a match where a victory for either team would mean a chance to get into the thick of the title race.
Meanwhile, word of the incident spread fast, with even former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah weighing in on the issue.
Have been told @realkashmirfc are facing numerous difficulties down south in the run up to their clash against Gokulam Kerala FC to the point where they are unsure they will be safe playing tomorrow. Request local authorities to intervene to ensure safety of players & staff.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) December 14, 2018
The Gokulam Kerala FC twitter handle obviously thought the former CM's concerns about Real Kashmir's safety exaggerated the situation, and they came back with this:
Yes. Sure.— Gokulam Kerala FC (@GokulamKeralaFC) December 14, 2018
“To a point where they’re unsure they’ll be safe playing tomorrow?”
Probably that’s why they didn’t want to practice today? ðŸ¤”ðŸ˜€ https://t.co/jttNvklhwy
The host club handle also posted a series of tweets explaining their perspective on the situation...
Update: Today is ‘Harthal’ (Strike) organised by a political party. After a long previous night of arrangements to get the transport for both the teams, we managed to send the bus for RKFC. Medical college ground was booked for RKFCs training. (1/n) pic.twitter.com/xF69SP64D7— Gokulam Kerala FC (@GokulamKeralaFC) December 14, 2018
Before the bus arrived, RKFCs officials who are staying in a nearby hotel invaded the EMS Stadium, where training a day before the match is not allowed by any MC. To keep this in track, we refused to let them train in the EMS. (2/n)— Gokulam Kerala FC (@GokulamKeralaFC) December 14, 2018
RKFC officials stormed the FOP and manhandled the groundsman and threw his phone away when he tried to capture what Mr. Robertson and his club members tried to do.— Gokulam Kerala FC (@GokulamKeralaFC) December 14, 2018
Note, Mr. Robertson called our CEO a “a fu**** ba****” for doing the things he had to do. (3/n)
Questions:— Gokulam Kerala FC (@GokulamKeralaFC) December 14, 2018
Why was the bus provided not used by them to get to the medical college ground when we had already arranged everything even in harthal? They did train the previous day in the same place.
Why invade the stadium to train when it is not allowed by M. Comissioner?(4/n)
Remember, Medical college ground is probably the best of all the grounds that we have here. Getting a practice ground here is not easy and we agree that we couldn’t provide the best for all the teams, which is why we practice in the same ground we provide to the opponents. (5/n)— Gokulam Kerala FC (@GokulamKeralaFC) December 14, 2018
Since RKFC did not reach the practice ground on the allotted time, we have even requested to extend the time hoping they might reach a bit late and train which was agreed by the Medical College. But no, that did not happen. (6/n)— Gokulam Kerala FC (@GokulamKeralaFC) December 14, 2018
And just because @realkashmirfc admin woke up a bit early and blurted things out, it doesn’t mean it is the neither right or wrong. Keep your sentiments for “new club from Kashmir” aside and think through the whole situation! ðŸ™ðŸ¼ (n/n)— Gokulam Kerala FC (@GokulamKeralaFC) December 14, 2018
Here's hoping the matter resolves peacefully between the two clubs' officials and tomorrow's match goes on as per schedule without any more untoward incidents.
UPDATE: Gokulam Kerala FC, in an official statement, have alleged that their CEO Ashok Kumar was manhandled by Real Kashmir FC staff, which has further escalated the controversy. We will keep you posted as more information emerges.