Bhaichung Bhutia addressing media persons at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok, Sikkim Credit: EastMojo image

Gangtok: Expressing serious concern over the ongoing conflict between Sikkim Football Association (SFA) and local football clubs, due to which the state was unable to participate in Santosh Trophy this year and witnessed mass boycott from the football clubs for Sikkim Premiere Division League, football icon Bhaichung Bhutia termed it unfortunate, saying: “This could have been resolved amicably.”

“Due to some egoistic individuals, it has become a big issue. September 23, 2019 will be considered as a black day for Sikkim football as the state was supposed to play their first Santosh Trophy match this season,” he said.

Bhutia agreed on the existence of problems in SFA which, he feels, needs to be reorganised and SFA should be more professional as an organisation. “SFA should take everybody, including the clubs, players, referees, fans and sports department together. No doubt, SFA has issues but this does not give the clubs and the players the right to boycott Santosh Trophy as it’s the biggest tournament for any footballer in Sikkim.”

He further stated that tournaments like Santosh Trophy had given platforms to footballers like Sunil Chettri and himself during their tenure.

“Players are not taking part in Santosh Trophy for SFA. But this will affect their career also. If you perform well in Santosh Trophy, there is every possibility that you might be picked by country’s top clubs because of your performance. The decision of boycott has hampered the future of young and upcoming players of the state,” he said.

Bhutia claimed that he didn’t have any knowledge about the players’ demand for longer training camp.

On the ban announced by local football clubs on S League, Bhaichung commented, “SFA should not have banned the whole Sikkim Aakraman FC. Rather, they should have imposed ban on the members who manhandled the officials. SFA’s decision was a bit unfair. However, SFA is now willing to take back their decision.”

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