THE MATCH BETWEEN Real Kashmir FC and defending champions Minerva Punjab FC, scheduled to take place today at TRC Turf Ground in Srinagar, stands cancelled as the away team did not turn up for the match.
Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj had already announced on social media that his team would not travel to Srinagar due to the recent terrorist attack that took place in Pulwama, Kashmir which saw 42 CRPF jawans being martyred.
The MPFC club management had requested written assurance of safety from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which they did not receive. Although the Deputy SP of Security of Kashmir and other relevant authorities met with the match commissioner Michael Andrews and host club Real Kashmir FC's representatives to assure them of full safety.
The referees had reached Srinagar on Friday and a security detail charged with the protection of Minerva Punjab FC has been in place for 2 days, awaiting the arrival of the travelling club, which ultimately did not happen.
Today at the matchday venue, the match commissioner followed the protocol: he asked the home team Real Kashmir FC to wait till 3:10 pm (the match was scheduled to start at 2 pm) for the arrival of the away team, after which he forwarded a report to the All India Football Federation which detailed the situation and stated that the match had not taken place.
Soon afterwards, the AIFF released a report that said the matter was going to be forwarded to the League Committee for final decision,
"With Hero I-League defending champions Minerva Punjab FC failing to turn up for their scheduled match against Real Kashmir FC on February 18, 2019 at TRC ground in Srinagar, the Match Commissioner’s report along with other relevant documents are being referred to the All India Football Federation’s League Committee for further action as per the I-League Regulations.
The match commissioner along with the referees who have been posted in Srinagar since Friday (February 15, 2019), were at the venue for the match for a slated 2 pm kick-off, along with host club Real Kashmir FC as per the regulations.
Despite the tragic events which have unfolded in Kashmir over the past few days, football for the people of Jammu and Kashmir has been maintained on schedule, with assistance from the security provided by the authorities, with the qualifying matches of the Santosh Trophy being completed on February 16, approximately 36 kilometres from Jammu in Katra, which was, and is still under curfew."
MPFC owner Ranjit Bajaj has said he wants the match rescheduled to a neutral venue, and vowed to take the matter to court if the game is declared a forefeit. But precedent says the League Committee is most likely to take into account the match commissioner's report, and declare the game a walkover victory for Real Kashmir FC, which would see RKFC get 3 points and a 3-0 official margin of victory.