Country’s football community especially booters are frustrated with the decision of cancelling the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) season.
Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) called off two professional soccer leagues -- BPL 2019–20 and Independence Cup’2020 without taking any decision on booters’ wages. The decision was made on Monday in an emergency meeting of BFF Executive Committee. Local booters have been feeling fear of uncertainty as the committee made no decision on their contracts and areas.Veteran goalkeeper of national team Ashraful Islam Rana, who has been playing for Sheikh Russel KC Ltd, told daily sun that BFF could take some more time before announcing the suicidal decision.
“It was a suicidal decision for footballers. I think BFF could take some more time; at least one more month or after the Eid considering the overall situation. The other countries are going to resume their season; Germany has already restarted their domestic seasons. We have worked for six months, but they didn’t take any decision on our wages. Even they haven’t clarified this issue. We want to sit down with BFF. We need to talk with them,” he said on Monday.
“We know the clubs have been facing financial crises in this situation, we may offer to pay cut. But club officials hadn’t discussed or talked with us. As I know some top-flight clubs, for instance, Bashundhara, Dhaka Abahani, Saif, Ctg Abahani and Sheikh Russel came into a mutual decision of wage reduction with their respective booters; they have negotiated with their booters, but what about others? BFF could co-ordinate it,” he further added.
BFF earlier halted its all international and domestic meets including BPL, Tricotex 3rd Women’s Football League (WFL), National School Football Championship and Independence Cup for an indefinite period as the government banned public gatherings and enforced lockdown countrywide to slow the spread out coronavirus on March. BPL was suspended after six rounds while women’s league was suspended after six rounds.
Due to the financial hurdles amid lockdown, most of the BPL clubs demanded to cancel the ongoing season. They released overseas players, coaching staff and offered pay cut to the local footballers. This year more than 400 booters including 64 foreigners took part in the league.
Rana also believed that the decision will also affect their performance levels and mental health.“Most of our players belong to middle-class family. Football is our only profession, we bear our family expenses through these wages. Also, we have been out of the field for a long time and now both these matters -- financial hurdles and long break -- will affect our performance level. Bangladesh have been performing well in the international arena for the last two or three years, we have been taking on their giant opponents confidently. Both the situation and decision will reduce our confidence level,” the 32-year-old goalkeeper further said.
Country’s another veteran footballer Mamunul Islam Mamun said felt both the federation and clubs should think about the players before cancelling the league.
“I will not criticise anyone. I just request both BFF and club officials to think about the local players. We have more than 400 players. Clubs are thinking about foreigners, but what about the local players? What is our future? They should think about our future. I will not blame anyone, I understand that the present situation, but they should understand our financial condition,” said the midfielder, who has also been playing for Dhaka Abahani Ltd.
The world football has been eagerly waiting to resume leagues and competitions. Popular international leagues including Spanish La Liga, France Ligue 1, Italian Serie A have been taking preparations to restart their respective seasons while German Bundesliga has already been started.
Mamunul also believed the foreign players and coaching staffs are the main burden for the clubs.
“The European leagues expect to resume the season. These are good examples of BFF. Our clubs have been always facing financial problems due to expensive foreign players and coaching staffs. I think if they play without foreigners, they may overcome their financial difficulties. It would be the best solution. Hopefully, BFF and clubs will think again and find out a common solution for all of us regarding this issue. Also, our football associations should come forward to support us in this situation,” he added.
The cancellation of the domestic season will also make an impact on international competitions including FIFA, AFC qualifiers of the national team and AFC Cup of Bashundhara Kings. The national team players are also concerned about it.
Defender Topu Barman said, “Ahead of the season, we make our plan including our fitness program according to the calendar. Now, it has ruined as the leagues have been canceled. I don’t know what will do, how do we keep our fitness and others.”
“It will make an impact on our mental health. We have AFC Cup and world cup qualifiers which may resume after three or four months. If we don’t have league, we can’t perform there,” added the 25-year-old Bashundhara Kings defender.
BFF expects to start a new season in September or October. Concurring Topu, another defender of Kings Bishwanath Ghosh also believed that the booters will suffer a lot as they will be inactive for a long period.
“We have been no camps, no training for the last one to two months. After this decision, we will now have to off-field for more than four to five months. Induvial training isn’t enough to keep our fitness. We have some big international tournaments AFC Cup, world cup qualifiers in the future. We will suffer a lot during those meets,” said the defender.
“Most of our players don’t belong to rich families. They will face financial hurdles. I am not talking about only 20 to 30 players, it will impact the football community. I am not frustrated, I am worried about our future,” he added.
Former footballers are also frustrated with the decision of cancelling BPL. They blamed BFF for their gaucherie and amateur decision.
“The players will definitely struggle for this decision. They have been out of the field for a long time, they should try to keep them fit at this moment. Both federation and club have some responsibilities to their players, they are our assets. We have to protect their assets. Clubs will get cash assistance from FIFA, they have to utilize this money. BFF has some responsibilities in this issue, they urge FIFA to provide their aid as soon as possible,” said former striker Sheikh Mohammad Aslam, also the director of Dhaka Mohammedan SC Limited.
There are two associations for football community, formed by former players -- Footballers Welfare Association and Sonali Otit Club. Both associations may step forward to support for booters in this situation.
“Footballers Welfare Association seems inactive for a long time. I have some doubts about it, is it really active? I am a member of Sonali Otit Club. We have decided to help some referees who have been struggling amid lockdown. We also want to step forward for our junior footballers. Let’s see,” Aslam added.
Another former striker Alfaz Ahmed, who has been now coach one of BPL clubs Uttar Baridhara SC, also blamed BFF and clubs for their decision.
“The club have been always facing financial crises. It isn’t a new issue. BFF has abandoned for the third time since the professional football league starts. Both sides are only thinking about themselves, none is thinking for players and coaches. I don’t know why they took the prompt decision on this issue. They could take time, observe the overall situation. It is really frustrating,” said Alfaz.