Minerva Punjab have forfeited their match against Real Kashmir
Real Kashmir were to host Minerva Punjab tomorrow in their return I-League fixture. However, the defending champions have refused to travel to Srinagar after the Pulwama attack, citing security concerns. They have also said that embassies of their foreign players have advised them to pull out from said fixture. Minerva added that AIFF has failed to provide them with enough security measures.
What did Minerva officials have to say?
Minerva Punjab stated that "Considering the extraordinary circumstances following the Pulwama attack just 20Km from Srinagar Airport, the Ministry of Home Affairs need to approve the football match being held. If the CRPF convoys are not safe, then we are very soft targets for such attacks." Owner Ranjit Bajaj said that he has no second thoughts about forfeiting the match.
I-League officials said there was enough security measures
I-League CEO Sunando Dhar had, however, said that local authorities in Srinagar had agreed to the match going ahead. "The local security in-charge of the match has also assured full security to the players, officials and all those related to the match," said Dhar. He added that the I-League would assure that all necessary security during travel and the match would be provided.
Why did Minerva still refuse to play?
Minerva said that the security measures Dhar was talking about are provided in any I-League match. In their letter to the AIFF, they further said that traveling would be very dangerous since the place where the attack happened is merely 20 km away from Srinagar Airport. Minerva had also asked the AIFF to stall the match for a fortnight or provide any other venue.
What will be the result of this forfeiture?
Now that Minerva have forfeited the match, all three points will be awarded to Real Kashmir. They will now be with 35 points from 17 matches and lead the I-League table. But Chennai City have a match in hand and can regain their top-spot once again. East Bengal, who are to visit Kashmir on February 28, have also asked AIFF to change venues.