Guwahati: The Assam Cricket Association (ACA) dismissed allegations raised against it in regard to the promotion of cricket at the expense of football, and gaining control of the historic Nehru Stadium here, solely for developing cricket.

Addressing the media at the ACA Stadium in Barsapara on Thursday, ACA president Romen Dutta and ACA secretary Devajit Saikia termed the accusations unfounded and uncalled for, since the ACA, they clarified, “never sought or tried to relegate the importance of football in Assam, but instead only worked towards the development of the game.”

Substantiating the claim, the ACA officials informed that the association had recently identified 40 acres of land in Tinsukia for developing both cricket and football, besides adopting other football-friendly measures, including donating a sum of Rs 50,000 recently to the Assam Football Referees’ Association.

Regarding the accusation concerning the possession of the Nehru Stadium for promoting cricket at the cost of football, the ACA office-bearers categorically stated that the Nehru Stadium was a property of the Assam Board of Sports and that ACA was allowed to host the BCCI domestic tournaments there, only after the ground was allotted to the association in response to an application made to the board for the same.

It was further said that the ACA had signed an agreement with the Board of Sports, Assam, to revive the glorious past of the Nehru Stadium by developing four centre wickets for cricket and two grounds for football at the sole expense of the former, and has accordingly delivered what was promised.

Upon the request of the Board of Sports, the association had also installed a sprinkler system on the football grounds of the Nehru Stadium for their utilisation as one of the practice grounds for the FIFA Women Football under-17 tournament, which was originally scheduled in February 2022, it was informed.

Furthermore, with a view to preserve the sanctity of the Nehru Stadium and restrict unauthorised entry to the newly developed Football and Cricket grounds, Gate No. 1 and 2 of the Nehru Stadium were also sealed by Assam Cricket Association with the approval of the Board of Sports, Assam.

‘Match-fixing’ slur

Meanwhile, ACA secretary Devajit Saikia informed that the association has appointed an inquiry committee to look into the match-fixing and other allegations highlighted by the District Sports Association, Silchar, with respect to a J.K. Barooah under-19 cricket tournament match between NF Railway and Jorhat in Golaghat on February 16 and 17, 2022, and accordingly reached a conclusion.

“The match-fixing accusation was rejected as Silchar didn’t have any grievance/objection till the last two overs of the match and that the possibility of any kind of fixing in the last two overs has been ruled out,” he said.

“Further, two different and opposite positions were taken by the captains of the Jorhat and NFR teams regarding calling off the match after the 11th mandatory over, and as such, disagreement between the two teams was crystal clear,” Saikia said.

However, it was informed that as the NFR team was found guilty of deliberately underperforming in the last two overs for reasons best known to them, the NFR (under-19) team was debarred from participating in any ACA or ACA-recognised tournament for the next three years.

“It was, however, quite evident from the findings that the Jorhat team was in no way responsible for the said underperformance of the NFR (under-19) team,” he said.

Also, since the role of the NFR (under-19) team’s coach and captain were found to be against the game and spirit of cricket, the manager-cum-coach of the NFR (under-19) team, Satyabrata Chakraborty, has been banned from taking part in any cricket activities under ACA for life.

The captain of NFR (under-19), Ronit Akhter, has been banned from any cricket activities under ACA for the next three years.

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