As Kerala hosts the Super Cup this year, football fans following I-League clubs are complaining over the lack of TV coverage of the Super Cup I-League qualifiers.
In a statement issued by Gokulam Kerala Battalia, the fans’ wing of the Kozhikode-based club called the lack of coverage of I-League qualifier matches of the Super Cup as “stepmotherly treatment to I-League clubs” by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The matches this year are being played on Gokulam Kerala’s home turf — the EMS Stadium in Kozhikode — as well as the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri.
According to the fans, they were unable to watch the competitive matches between I-League clubs due to the lack of television coverage.
The timing for the I-League club matches was set at 5 pm. The fans questioned this as well, as people usually attend Iftar — the time believers of Islam break the fast during Ramadan — around this time.
Apart from GKFC Battalia, GKFC Ultras — an unofficial fan group of the club — also raked up the issue to social media.
Telecast snub irks fan
“The Hero Super Cup 2023 is being conducted in Manjeri and Kozhikode as part of the Vision 2047 motto of spreading the beautiful game across the region. We the fans of Gokulam Kerala had been eagerly waiting for this tournament but unfortunately, a large section of fans felt disappointed to hear the news of no telecast for the qualifiers of this major tournament,” read a statement by GKFC Battalia.
According to GKFC Battalia, the television coverage snub occurred despite the entire setup for production being in place and there being no additional requirements to broadcast the I-League qualifier matches.
The fans said when the I-League team matches were not being aired, the playoff match between Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC, which was held at the same venue, was telecast.
“This is a clear insult to all the l-League teams and the supporters who follow them,” read the statement.
The fans’ wing of the Malabarians also stated that as Super Cup matches were held on their home turf, they were hoping that they would be played under floodlight instead of 5 pm during the weekdays, a move that denied many people the chance to go to the stadium.
They also alleged that throughout the season the management and supporters of I-League teams faced poor treatment from the AIFF.
The fans hoped that the new AIFF committee would soon address such issues.
Taking a dig at the apex football body in India and their “Vision 2047”, GKFC Battalia stated that “a vision is easy to document but to make it into a reality it requires careful planning and execution”.
Timing resulted in poor turnout
Vysakh, a member of GKFC Battalia who coordinates the activities of the fan group in the Malappuram district, told South First: “The Super Cup matches this year are happening not just in our home state but on our home ground. When there is no telecast of these important matches despite that, it concerns us.”
He also said that all facilities for a match telecast had been set up at Payyanad Manjeri Stadium, and even the playoff between ISL clubs Jamshedpur and Mumbai City, held there, received television coverage.
“The matches that were played so far between the I-League clubs were highly competitive games. But as the timing for all their games was 5 pm, those who are on Ramadan fast could not reach the gallery of our home ground, which resulted in poor turnout,” lamented Vysakh,
He added: “This kind of treatment is only for the I-League teams, which is the reason we called it a stepmotherly attitude by the AIFF.”
Hero Super Cup 2023
The Hero Super Cup is back after four years. The last time the tournament was held was in April 2019 in Bhubaneswar.
The qualifiers for the I-League clubs were scheduled between 3 and 6 April, with four winners — Sreenidi Deccan FC, Churchill Brothers FC Goa, Aizawl FC, and Gokulam Kerala FC — earning their spot in the group stages.
The 16 teams in this stage have been divided into four groups, with only the group winners progressing to the semifinals.
The final will be played on 25 April at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode.
The Super Cup winners will play against Gokulam Kerala FC, who were the winners of the 2021-22 I-League season.
The remaining group stage matches of the Super Cup are expected to be streamed live by Sony Entertainment Television (SET) on its sports channels.
South First’s calls to Gokulam Kerala FC owner Praveen, as well as CEO Ashok Kumar, went unanswered.