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Fans vs Cops: Police disallow megaphone, flag, drums at Durand Cup; Mohun Bagan supporters protest at the gate

THE PROLONGED TUSSLE between football fans and police in Kolkata continued today, at the Durand Cup 2023 opening match.

Several Mohun Bagan fan groups, especially Mariners Base Camp, were denied a chance to bring in their drums, megaphones and flag sticks into the Salt Lake Stadium.

As a result, as the Mariners registered a memorable 5-0 win in their campaign opener, many of their fans were still stuck outside the stadium arguing with the police.

Megaphones, drums and flags are commonplace in football stadiums across the world. Fan groups of every major club, in Europe, Asia or South America, regularly use these to showcase their support for their team. However, stubborn security policies in several Indian cities, including Kolkata, have repeatedly stopped football fans from putting on a show in the stands.

This is not the first time fans have had run into issues with the Bidhan Nagar Police. In 2019, during a national team match, members of the Blue Pilgrims also faced issues from the police.

Then, in 2022, during the 'Remove ATK' movement, several Mohun Bagan fans had heated arguments with police personnel over their attempts to stop the fans from entering the stadium with club flags.

The fans refused to budge and chanted near the gate until the cops allowed them to enter with their flags.

East Bengal fans have also had several similar issues with the police.

Incidents like these are unthinkable even in the biggest tournaments in the world like Asian Cup or FIFA World Cup, where security personnel cooperate with the fans to ensure they get to support their teams with full flair and passion.

However, today's incident shows that Indian football is yet to become fan-friendly; and it continues to hinder the sport from achieving true growth.

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