Red carpet welcomes are something that Bollywood stars are accustomed to. And that is precisely what the Western India Football Association (WIFA) rolled out for them during a friendly match between All Stars Football Club led by actor Abhishek Bachchan and Satyug Gold Stars Football Club led by businessman Raj Kundra at the Cooperage Stadium on Saturday.
Film stars in action during their charity match at Cooperage on Saturday. Pic/Suresh KK
Interestingly, the revamped venue has still not been awarded an occupation certificate, and that is cited as a reason why the Mumbai District Football Association's (MDFA) Elite Division matches have been shifted to other venues across the city. About 1200 people witnessed the star-studded clash, but the decision to let film stars use the Cooperage facilities and deprive deserving players from doing it has not gone down well with followers of the sport in the city.
Joshua Lewis, CEO of Kenkre FC expressed shock at the step-brotherly treatment shown to professional footballers. "I am really shocked about WIFA's priorities. Around 1200 people were allowed to enter the premises to watch a friendly, but 11-member teams are denied permission to play there. It is disappointing that the city has not hosted I-League matches for two years and even the MDFA Elite and Super Division matches are held at venues that are not even in playable condition," said Lewis.
All for a cause
Henry Menezes, the CEO of WIFA, said, "It was a charity match for which we gave permission. As we don't have an OC we cannot let competitive matches be held here. NGO Magic Bus was the man- -of-the-match as Rs 31 lakhs was presented to them after the game. So we did not commit any offence." Interestingly, WIFA assistant secretary Wali Mohammad was shocked that even executive committee members were not informed about the event.