Chances fade for Kashmir to host Santosh Trophy; AIFF unhappy

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Srinagar, Nov 14 (UNI) The chances of holding the 62nd Santosh Trophy in the strife-torn Kashmir valley after nearly 30 years in May 2008 appear bleak after an All India Football Federation (AIFF) team expressed disappointment over the preparations for the event.

The AIFF observers -- vice president Subroto Dutta and executive member Nasir Ali -- arrived here yesterday to take stock of the preparations for hosting the national championship.

They expressed ''unhappiness and disappointment'' over the lack of infrastructure for organising the tournament.

The AIFF observers asked the organisers -- the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association (JKFA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council -- to pull up their socks and complete the remaining work by February next year, failing which the tournament would be awarded to another state.

The AIFF observers, accompanied by JKFA office bearers, called on Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad here today to apprise him about the infrastructure that had been put in place since their last visit in May this year.

Mr Azad assured them that the state government was very much determined to host the championship in Kashmir next year.

Srinagar had earlier hosted the 35th Santosh Trophy in 1978 when Goa won the championship, beating Bengal 2-0. The only other major tournament hosted here since then was the Federation Cup in 1984.

Srinagar was again in contention to host the 61st edition of the Santosh Trophy in 2006, but lack of infrastructure and security reasons forced the AIFF authorities to shift the country's biggest tournament to Haryana at the last moment.

The AIFF then decided to hold the 62nd Santosh Trophy in Kashmir in July this year, but deferred the championship to May 2008, again on similar grounds.

The AIFF observers inspected change rooms, turf, drainage system and other requirements at the Bakshi Stadium, the main venue for holding the Santosh Trophy, and the Polo Grounds here.

After inspection, the AIFF observers suggested the organisers to work on the drainage system, turf, setting up of a media centre and a control room for live coverage of the event and complete the pending job by February next year.

During their last visit, the observers said they had suggested certain measures, but only a few have been fulfilled.

About security, the AIFF observers said it was the internal problem and the responsibility of the state government.

Talking to reporters, Mr Dutta said the AIFF was keen to host the Santosh Trophy in Kashmir, but the two selected venues lacked the required infrastructure.

''A little progress, about 50 per cent, has been made since our last visit to Kashmir in May this year, but still lot of things need to be done,'' he added.

UNI

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