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Cricket or football? Turf war intensifies over Kochi stadium

Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi

Bengaluru, March 21: Revolutions have always had humble beginning, rumbling progress and explosive denouement. An emotional tweet by Malayalam writer N S Madhavan has set in motion such a movement - #SaveKochiTurf.

MyKhel looks at various angles of this sporting storm surrounding the India's ODI match against the West Indies in November.

The issue

The BCCI has allotted the ODI between India and West Indies in November to Kochi and the Kerala Cricket Association want to conduct the match in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kaloor, Kochi, a venue that it has taken on lease from Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) till 2043.

The venue, decked up and relaid to match FIFA standards for the U17 World Cup 2017, is the home venue of ISL side Kerala Blasters and the ODI clashes with its home league schedule. Moreover, the field needed to be dug to prepare a cricket pitch and the football aficionados have gone all out against it.

Massive support

Subsequent to Madhavan's tweet, Kerala Blasters FC players CK Vineeth and Ian Huime backed the save turf campaign. Sachin Tendulkar, co-owner of Kerala Blasters, and Shashi Tharoor MP too have come out in open supporting this move, giving a fillip to football lovers' demand to shift the ODI to Greenfield Sports Hub in Thiruvanathapuram, which has hosted a T20I successfully last year. India football team skipper Sunil Chhetri too came out supporting the call to shift cricket.


Latest stands

GCDA

After a meeting with the representatives of all the stakeholders - Kerala Cricket Association, Kerala Football Association and ISL - on Wednesday (March 21) it has been decided to explore the possibilities of staging cricket and football simultaneously in Kochi. The opinion of the Kerala Government too will be taken into consideration - N Mohanan, GCDA Chairman.


KCA

We can assure that the turf on the Kochi stadium will not be damaged post staging a cricket match. After all, we are maintaining the ground after taking it on lease till 2043 - Jayesh George, KCA Secretary.


KFA

We have no issues in conducting the cricket match in the Kochi stadium if that does not harm the turf and it does not in any way affect Kerala Blasters' ISL matches - K A M Mather, KFA President.


RUMOUR

The grapevine has it that the match could be shifted to Thiruvanathapuram after the intervention of power centres like Tendulkar and Tharoor.


THE INFIGHT

Meanwhile, Thiruvananthpuram District Cricket Association president Vinod questioned the move to conduct the ODI in Kochi that was originally allotted to the Kerala's capital city. He has sent a letter to KCA asking for the reasons behind shifting the venue unilaterally.


Other points

1. KCA has taken the Jawaharlal Nehru International stadium for lease from GCDA in 2013 for a period of 30 years.


2. KCA has spent Rs 10 crore to renovate the stadium, including the installation of floodlits and generators in the stadium.


3. KCA has given the GCDA Rs 10 lakh every year after signing the lease agreement in 2013.


4. KCA continued to maintain the ground even during the ISL matches.


5. KCA handed over the ground renovation work to FIFA for a period of one year in 2016 in preparation for the U17 World Cup.


6 FIFA has spent approximately Rs 25 crore to renovate the ground to meet its standards, especially in fire safety.


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Story first published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 13:59 [IST]
Other articles published on Mar 21, 2018
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