St Francis D'Assisi High School (Borivli) beat Campion 'A' (Cooperage) 1-0 to advance to the semi-finals of the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) Boy's U-16 Division I League at Azad Maidan yesterday.

The damaged ball that was used yesterday. Pic/Sameer Markande
The damaged ball that was used yesterday. Pic/Sameer Markande 

But surprisingly, the game was played with a damaged ball as the referees were reluctant to change it despite requests from the respective coaches. Kevin Menezes scored the all-important goal in a game that both teams needed to win to stay in contention for a place in the Last Four.

'Unfit for play'
Post the win, one of the players said the ball was not fit to be used. "The ball was torn on one side. As if playing in the heavy downpour was not enough, the poor quality of the ball made it even more difficult to shoot."

One of the coaches accused the school sports body of adopting a careless attitude. He lamented: "Nobody can speak against MSSA as they ban the coach for speaking the truth. This was an important match for both teams.

Forget anything else, it was a boy's U-16 Division I match and the least the referee could have done was to change the ball. But they let the match continue. With no MSSA officials present to stop them (referees) these things go unnoticed."

JP Singh, vice president of the Bombay Referees Association (BRA) and also one of the assistant referees of the match felt otherwise.

"The ball had no issues at all. It was just torn on one side. There was no major damage. Also, it's not a leather ball that it will absorb water. The losing side always wants to put the blame on something and this time it was the ball that was blamed."

Meanwhile, MSSA president and football secretary Fr Jude Rodrigues said he would look into the matter.