The 10th edition of the G V Raja All-India Football Tournament is set to kick off at University Stadium here on May 22. However, there has been a standstill between the Kerala University and the district football authorities regarding the rent of the match venue.
The controversy erupted after the Kerala University registrar K Mohammed Basheer turned down the Thiruvananthapuram District Football Association’s (TDFA) request for letting it use the ground free of cost to host the tournament.
“It is unfair that a stadium dedicated to G V Raja must be hired in order to host a football tournament which is held to perpetuate his memory,” said V Sivankutty MLA, who is the chairman of the tournament’s organising committee.
“We were given the stadium for free last time in 2012. But this time, the registrar has denied us this concession after intervention from the director of the University Physical Education Department ,” alleged C Selvakumar, secretary of the District Football Association.
Paying Rs 4,500 per day to the University will deal a severe blow to the already cash-strapped tournament for which the entry has been made free for the spectators this year.
“We are already finding it hard to rope in sponsors. To pay over Rs 50,000 for the 12 days, on top of all the expenditures of bringing top teams to the city, is not feasible if the tournament is to be held in the coming years too,” Selvakumar said.
However, Kerala University Physical Education Department director Raziya Begum said that she was not responsible for the situation. “When the registrar enquired about the stadium, I informed him that the stadium had been given for free in 2012 while it was charged in 2010,” Raziya said.
Meanwhile, the registrar pointed out that the football association had rented the stadium in 2010. “The decision to charge rent for the stadium has not been finalised yet. A meeting of the Kerala University Syndicate members scheduled for May 16 will take a decision on the matter,” Basheer said.
With almost all the football tournaments in the state shutting shop in the recent years, the G V Raja Tournament, that was resumed in 2010 after the stadium disaster of 1984, is one of the very few national football tournaments held in Kerala. This year’s tournament is scheduled to be held between May 22 and 31 with clubs like Pune FC under-21 team, Kerala Police, State Bank of Travancore, Punjab Police, Western Railways and Indian Navy, among others, to feature in it.