KOLKATA: Former India football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Thursday expressed disappointment over the season's first Kolkata football derby not being played, terming the no-show as a bad advertisement for the sport in the country.
"It's so disappointing not to have the Kolkata derby," Bhutia told IANS over phone on Thursday.
"It's not only a bad advertisement for Indian football but also for Kolkata football," added the city-based football icon.
The much-anticipated clash between bigwigs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan was scheduled to take place at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium on Wednesday.
But with Mohun Bagan refusing to blink first in their tussle with the Indian Football Association (IFA), the sport's governing body in Bengal, more than 1,000 supporters were deprived of any action after turning up at the venue despite the knowledge that Bagan won't take the field.
East Bengal were present on the ground only to see the match commissioner call off the tie after waiting for 30 minutes.
"It's harsh on the fans the most. They wait all year long for the first East Bengal-Mohun Bagan tie of the season and when they are meted out treatment such as this, I feel sad. I really feel bad for the fans," Bhutia, who has plied his trade for both the clubs, lamented.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) advisor though refused to point fingers at anybody.
"I don't know who's fault it is. IFA or Mohun Bagan. All I want to say is that this is bad. This should never have happened. I don't know how things can be bettered. This is indeed appalling."
How much of an effect will the fiasco have on young players who look forward to soaking up the derby atmosphere?
"It's hard on them too. Not only the young ones, every player wants to play the Kolkata derby. It's one of the biggest fixtures in the world," Bhutia said.
Two days back Mohun Bagan had announced they were not ready to play the derby on the pre scheduled date of September 7, as they needed at least two days of practice at the venue before the match and a total of over 6,000 tickets for their members.
IFA, which had offered Mohun Bagan 2,000 tickets for its members, later promised 1,000 more, but ruled out any postponement of the game.