Kolkata: A day after the suspension of his club from the I-League till 2014-15, beleaguered Mohun Bagan mid-fielder Syed Rahim Nabi on Sunday said his "death" on that December 9 derby could have avoided his club of the severe punishment by the AIFF. In a press statement, Nabi, who had sustained two fractures in his cheekbone after being hit by a stone during the violence-marred match against East Bengal, on Sunday questioned the suspension and held himself "responsible" for the crisis.
"With deep pain, I say that we would not have been deprived of football, if I was killed in that incident on December 9," an emotional Nabi wrote in Bengali in the press statement.
"In a way, my injury is responsible for Mohun Bagan's decision to withdraw the team after the interval. Many had said, if the stone had hit me somewhere else (head), it would have been difficult to escape death. It makes me feel that if I was killed that day, the national club would not have meted out such a harsh punishment."
Fully supporting Mohun Bagan's decision, he further wrote: "Mohun Bagan were forced to take such a decision keeping in mind football and football-loving people.
"Had we played in the second-half, more spectators or players might have been injured," he said. He further said it's difficult for them to come out of the mental trauma of not playing in the I-League anymore. I don't know how to come out of the mental trauma of not playing in the I-League. I am also deeply hurt by the AIFF suspension as any other sports-loving person," Nabi said.
Violence had gripped Yuba Bharati Krirangan with spectators hurling stones on the pitch soon after Mohun Bagan forward Odafa Okolie was red-carded during December 9 I-League derby. Down 0-1, Mohun Bagan had refused to play in the second-half, in a clear breach of rules that amounts to suspension for three seasons.
Acting on a judgment by one-man committee of Justice A K Ganguly, the AIFF in an unprecedented decision on Saturday suspended the 123-year-old club for next two seasons, while making their campaign in the ongoing season null and void. Meanwhile, about one hundred supporters held a rally outside Mohun Bagan tent this afternoon, demanding ouster of the club officials.
"Because of a handful of officials we had to face such a situation. It's high time that we remove (managing director) Anjan Mitra and co," a protester shouted.