PANJIM: FC Goa condemned the acts of premeditated vandalism by the members of the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat allegedly led by the newly elected Sarpanch Antonio Fernandes after their training facility at the village panchayat ground, was ‘damaged’ on Sunday.
“On Sunday afternoon, without any prior intimation and in an attempt to gain local political leverage, the football pitch was desecrated as the turf was dug up and later filled with concrete. The actions have led to the damage of the drainage and watering facilities of the ground - making the place unfit for the footballing activities that were being carried out,” stated FC Goa in a statement.
“The Club finds the Panchayat’s claims of looking to build infrastructure of cricket via a concrete pitch misleading and no communication of the same was ever received by the club. The actions are in breach of the MoU signed,” further stated the release.
When contacted FC Goa President Akshay Tandon, FC Goa refused to be intimidated by these acts and he said that his club will endeavour to explore all legal options available to mitigate the matter at the earliest. “We are going to go all out. We will go to court,” stated Akshay.
“FC Goa would like to clarify that it believes that the locals have been misled in regards to the terms and conditions of the partnership with false accusations brandished and recently published in media outlets,” the club said in the statement.
“In lieu of the sizable investment, the Gaurs’ right to use the facilities without payment only exists for the first three years of the partnership - taking in the factor of the sizable initial investment on development of the football pitches. Following the initial three years there are provisions in place in the initially signed MoU for mutual agreement on the commercial aspects if FC Goa are to continue using the facilities,”
The renovation efforts were also the pilot projevt of FC Goa’s Field of Dreams project - an endeavour undertaken by the Club to provide better footballing facilities across the state, to provide better infrastructure to budding footballers.
It can be noted that last year, as part of its attempts to create a greater bond with the local community and create local hubs for football, the club entered into a 3-year partnership with the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat in May 2020 with the intent to further grow the Goan and Indian football ecosystem.
“The partnership entailed the development of two football grounds - one of which had been playing host to the FC Goa first team as its practice ground. The other was developed for the use of the Panchayat and the local residents with the primary aim of providing a good playing ground for the locals to avail,” stated the release.
“Over the past one and a half years, the Club has spent close to rupees one crore on refurbishing the turf and has remained committed to developing the infrastructure at the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat ground at its own cost (close to rupees two lakhs a month) whilst also looking to develop the local talent in the region by imparting technical know-how and foster community development by means of the beautiful game through coaches from FC Goa,” the club said in a statement.
For the same, the Club scouted, trained and provided technical infrastructure to the U14 and U18 teams of Sporting Club of Porvorim.
“During this period of time, to extend further support to the community, FC Goa has been helping financially in the maintenance of the venue which entails other sporting facilities and activities for the locals.The Club at this time would request the Government of Goa to intervene at the earliest in regards to the matter,” concludes the press release.
--Antonio wants to generate
revenue for the Panchayat --
When Herald contacted the newly elected Sarpanch Antonio Fernandes agreed that the panchayat and the club (FC Goa) did sign an agreement with the previous Sarpanch.
“We had an MoU, however, the same wasn’t registered at the Sub registrar and we took a legal advice before passing the resolution to charge a fee for the usage of the ground, which otherwise FC Goa weren’t paying a single penny for the panchayat. And it was the people’s decision at the gram sabha,”
According to Antonio, most of the ISL clubs currently training across different venues in the state have been paying a huge fee and also maintaining the grounds.
“Almost every panchayat which has given their grounds to the ISL clubs get over 1.5 to 2 lakhs monthly as revenue from these clubs for using the facility and the club themselves maintains the ground. Why only our panchayat should suffer?” he questioned.
“I want revenue for our panchayat. I haven’t stopped FC Goa at our ground, I have just asked them to pay fees for using our facility,” Antonio explained.
Antonio stated, “Just because FC Goa spent money on the ground, they cannot claim the ground as their own,”
“The villagers got the entry of the ground only for last three months, before that the locals were not allowed cause of this club. These facilities are built for the locals and they should get to use them,” stated Antonio.
Antonio refuted the claims of vandalising the ground and said that the cricket pitch has been built by locals to play the sport. “The pitch is between the two ground and I don’t think it disturbs anyone. There are lot of cricket lovers in this village who want to play this sport and we cannot deny them their right to use the ground,” he added.