Unarguably, India is a cricket-crazy nation where cricketers are worshipped as Gods. But will a time ever come when footballers have an upper hand over cricketers?
There is an ongoing tussle over whether Kochi Stadium, which is home to Kerala Blasters outfit, be dug up to host an India-West Indies cricket match. The issue snowballed after several footballers including CK Vineeth and Iain Hume of the Blasters pleaded to the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) not to ‘dig up’ the stadium in Kochi for a one-off cricket match, saying that the move would ruin all the hard work that went into making Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium world-class.
Here is CK Vineeth’s Facebook post:
Ian Hume’s post:
So having read that there’s a possibility of a ODI Cricket Match planning to be played in JLN Stadium in Kochi, I have to say this…. I was here for the 1st season of @indiansuperleague when they had 6-8 weeks to transform our field from a Cricket ground to a Football ground. They made great strides in doing so, but it was still some way off being an established field for top level football. The amount of time and money that has been spent since then, to get the pitch to the standard it is now for the U-17 @fifaworldcup and @indiansuperleague 4, it would be a travesty to tear it up for a one off cricket match! I understand the love of cricket in not just Kerala, but all of India, and I don’t want to disrespect anyone for that. But there’s a ground in Trivandrum that is Cricket specific, so why for the sake of one match, rip up a pitch that has taken years to get to the standard as one of the best in the country? Question….. Would they tear up Eden Gardens to stage a one off football match? #SaveKochiTurf _______
MP Shashi Tharoor also batted for the football turf. He posted:
Thanks for the outpouring of support for my firm opposition to KCA’s shifting the WI ODI to Kochi. Turf laid for top-class football would have to be dug up, while a cricket-ready SportsHub stadium in Trivandrum, the best in India, lies idle. Who gains from this suspect decision?
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 20, 2018
Even Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar dove into the entire controversy to support the footballers, batting for the football stadium to be left intact. All he wants is for both the sports co-exist peacefully in the city. Sourav Ganguly too has backed Sachin Tendulkar on this.
Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily coexist. pic.twitter.com/rs5eZmhFDP
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 20, 2018
Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was among the six stadiums that hosted the 2017 U-17 FIFA World Cup matches. It is also home to the Indian Super League franchise, Kerala Blasters. The last cricket match that was played at the ground was way back in 2014 against West Indies.
The concerns on social media also suggest that the fans want the football stadium to remain intact. One can also attribute this to the fact that Kerala is traditionally a football bastion.
With so many voices pouring in, the sports minister of the state has also backed the campaign of not allowing the stadium to be dug up. If the campaign is successful, the India-West Indies cricket match could be shifted to the Greenfield Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram.