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Thane women's football team first thrash photographer, then call cops

Women’s football team approach police after clash with photographer moments after being scratched from MDFA tourney for fielding five ineligible players

Twenty-four hours after thrashing an opposition team 4-0 in a league match of the Maharashtra State Inter-District Senior Women’s Football Championship, Thane District Football Association's team thrashed a photographer!

5pm: Members of the Thane District Football Association women’s team protest their disqualification from the Maharashtra State Inter-District Senior Women’s Championship by walking on to the Karnatak Sporting Association ground to halt the 5pm kick-off between Nagpur and Dhule District Football Association
5pm: Members of the Thane District Football Association women’s team protest their disqualification from the Maharashtra State Inter-District Senior Women’s Championship by walking on to the Karnatak Sporting Association ground to halt the 5pm kick-off between Nagpur and Dhule District Football Association

At the Karnatak Sporting Association ground at Cross Maidan yesterday, the Thane girls, beat up senior photographer Pushpak Shirwadkar representing www.footballcounter.com for clicking their pictures when they protested their disqualification from the tournament for fielding five ineligible players.

7pm: Thane coach Thomas Castillino (in white) with captain Nagma Shaikh (left) at the Azad Maidan Police Stadium yesterday
7pm: Thane coach Thomas Castillino (in white) with captain Nagma Shaikh (left) at the Azad Maidan Police Stadium yesterday

Police called in
The irate girls then called up the police, complaining that photographer had molested them. Both parties were taken to the Azad Maidan Police Station and after a couple of hours, the girls walked out, refusing to lodge a complaint, claiming they did not want their careers to be affected. The photographer maintained he was innocent.

8pm: Thane player Dipika Masudkar, who claimed that  photographer Pushpak Shirwadkar had touched her inappropriately, speaks to reporters after refusing to file an official police complaint
8pm: Thane player Dipika Masudkar, who claimed that  photographer Pushpak Shirwadkar had touched her inappropriately, speaks to reporters after refusing to file an official police complaint

Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA), the tournament’s organisers, blamed the Thane girls for the ruckus.
“We received a protest letter from the Nagpur District Football Association that Thane had fielded five players who were registered with MDFA and had also represented Mumbai clubs. Rule No 5 of the tournament’s regulations clearly states that, ‘If any player is found to be registered with clubs from other districts, the entire team may be scratched from the tournament.’ So we disqualified the team and informed Thane District FA secretary Abdul Siddique accordingly.

Photographer Pushpak Shirwadkar
Photographer Pushpak Shirwadkar

However, the girls refused to accept our decision and marched on to the ground, preventing the 5pm kick-off between Nagpur and Dhule. Then an argument between the girls and our official photographer ensued and they called the police. This is a shameful act. The Thane girls have brought disgrace on themselves, their association and most importantly, the game,” MDFA secretary U Banerjee told mid-day at the police station yesterday.

MDFA secretary  U Banerjee. pics/bipin kokate
MDFA secretary U Banerjee. pics/bipin kokate

The girls claimed that the photographer abused them. “When we began our protest, the photographer starting taking our pictures. We told him not to, but he abused us. Our team members then confronted him and he pushed one of our players — Dipika Masudkar — and touched her on the chest in the bargain. That’s when I called in the police,” Thane team’s
striker Namrata Thakur said with coach Thomas Castillino and captain Nagma Shaikh by her side.

Ineligible players
Incidentally, Dipika and Namrata are among the five girls (the other three being Pooja Morey, Surabhi Manjrekar and Sneha Manchkar) who are ineligible to represent the Thane team.

Shirwadkar claimed he had done nothing wrong. “I was just doing my job and told the girls that they cannot stop me as I am the official photographer for the tournament. But they began pushing and shoving me and tried snatching my camera. Someone from the group then started rapping me hard on the head, while the others continued abusing me. I lost my lens cap in the scuffle. Shamelessly, they have told the police that I touched them inappropriately. Am I mad to touch a girl inappropriately in full view of the public in broad daylight,” he asked.

Azad Maidan Police Station sub-inspector Swapnil Chavan confirmed there was no case registered in the matter. “Both parties have given us their statements, but have refused to file any official complaint. So, the issue is resolved,” he said.

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