KARACHI: Karachi-based football clubs were barred entry into the Army stadium in Rawalpindi due to the security situation in the country even though they only wanted to see their to-be opponents in action.
KESC, NBP and KPT tried entering the stadium to witness action between the home team and PIA at the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) but, forced to wait and then turn away, players were told that they would need prior permission to enter the stadium.
While it was understandable given the security concern in the country, players felt ‘insulted’ as they wanted to examine opponents before competing against them.
NBP coach Nasir Ismail said players need to watch their opponents play to gauge their skill.
“It is unfair to the teams,” Ismail told The Express Tribune. “All three sets of players needed to watch the match to plan for their future fixtures. I don’t understand why they even play at such venues if security is such an issue. I’d want people, general public to come see my team play. If there are no spectators at the stadiums, then what is the point in playing the sport?”
Meanwhile, KESC captain Essa Khan said that it was ‘insulting and awkward’. While he acknowledged the location as a high-security zone, he said players and officials should be allowed to enter the stadium to watch the matches.
“We’ve lodged a complaint and also protested against this to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF),” said Khan. “We expect them to remove this stadium from the list of venues.”
PFF calls for change in venue
Meanwhile, PFF Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi acknowledged the situation was disturbing and directed Army officials to change the venue in two weeks.
He called the incident unfortunate, adding that a formal request for entrance was required by the teams. While the venue would be the same for the game between NBP and Army, it will be changed after Eid.
“We understand that the Army stadium has a rule but it’s no excuse to not allow these teams to watch the match.
“We’ve told the Army manager to choose another venue for their home-matches that is outside the Army headquarters.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2012.