IF THE GOA clubs thought their exit from I-League would draw a unified response from their fellow top division clubs who would stand by them, well, they were wrong.
Hours after Salgaocar and Sporting Clube de Goa announced their decision through a joint statement, responses started pouring in from other clubs in the league.
Rumours started going around that Dempo SC, for whatever reason, were also considering pulling out of the I-League.
Parth Jindal, the CEO of Bengaluru FC, tweeted out his dismay over the situation.
From the East, sources close to Shillong Lajong FC told TFG they were "disappointed" with this development, but were eager to assure their fans that they remained committed to play in the I-League.
The initial response from the Kolkata clubs was that of sympathy and solidarity for their Goan counterparts and critical of AIFF for not doing enough to stop this from happening.
But as time wore on, other voices from the clubs also started emerging; ones that were critical of the Goa clubs' decision to leave.
East Bengal official Shantiranjan Dasgupta, speaking to TV channel 24 Ghanta, said that he wished the clubs had waited a bit longer before taking such an extreme decision,
"It's extremely sad, what happened today. But I'll tell you one thing. We're all Indians. The responsibility to further the cause of Indian football falls on us all, not just one organisation. From that perspective, I think the decision to quit was taken a bit too early... Salgaocar Football Club has been nurturing Indian football for more than the past 50 years. Sporting Clube de Goa came a bit later but they too have been around for a long time. But they're very emotional, and I think that's why they took a decision like this in such haste. They could have waited a bit longer."
Drawing a parallel with the Kolkata clubs, Dasgupta explained why East Bengal and Mohun Bagan could not agree with Sporting and Salgaocar on the subject of leaving the league,
"We've been around for a century. We've helped develop players that have gone on to represent India in the Olympics and Asian championships. We served Indian football through tougher phases, and we are responsible to our fans. That's why we can't even think of pulling out of I-League. It's our duty to be there fight, for our fans, and for Indian football."
Mohun Bagan's Debashis Dutta went one step further and called the Goa clubs cowards for leaving the battlefield. Addressing reporters at the club tent, he said,
"Clubs come and clubs go. They have no sense of duty towards football. Mohun Bagan have been around for 127 years. Do you think we didn't have to struggle? Do you think East Bengal haven't had to fight hard over the last hundred years? If you leave the fight and go, that's suicide. And who commit suicide? Cowards."
Mohun Bagan head coach Sanjoy Sen didn't want to say too much on the matter, but expressed his concern to journalists,
"We've seen other clubs leave under pressure before, including Churchill Brothers and others. It's not hard to gauge why they did this. And it's clear that Indian football has arrived at a very difficult juncture."