Indian Football

Indian Football: East Bengal Fans Protest Against Investor; Clash With Police in Kolkata

Arjun Singh Devgan
East Bengal are one of the biggest clubs in India's football history
East Bengal are one of the biggest clubs in India's football history / DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/Getty Images

One of the most historic and prestigious football clubs in India, East Bengal found themselves embroiled in controversy after a fan protest on Thursday led to five people getting injured and 60 getting arrested after clashing with the police outside the club stadium gates.

Hundreds of rival groups of fans found themselves at the forefront on the day, gathering to demand that East Bengal play the Indian Super League (ISL), but the club's talks with the investors, a private cement company, have been deadlocked and ISL seems a distant dream.

It all began after East Bengal club officials decided not to sign the final agreement with investor Shree Cement Limited, citing differences in the term sheet and final agreement. This brought uncertainty for SC East Bengal to participate in Indian Super League (ISL).

However, there are differences among the club's fans over the issue as some feel it is worth paying the price if it means the club can play the ISL, while others feel that the club must retain its independent identity.

"We will not sign the agreement where the members will lose their fundamental rights, where the club will be permanently handed over and we will lose the right over ground, logo, tent,” East Bengal General Secretary, Kalyan Majumdar said in a statement.

All India Football Federation (AIFF), secretary Kushal Das too opened up on the incident, revealing that, "It is an unfortunate event that fans are being beaten by the club. However, I am afraid AIFF cannot interfere as it is a internal matter for East Bengal Club. The transfer window is on and other clubs are signing players, time is running out.”

East Bengal in 2020 celebrated it's centenary in 2020 and are one of the biggest clubs in Indian footballing history, along with Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting.