Indian Super League clubs, East Bengal and NorthEast United have condemned incidents of racism during the second semifinal of the Durand Cup 2023, played at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.
“NorthEast United FC are deeply disturbed by the recent incident of racism, hooliganism & violence directed towards some of our fans during the Durand Cup semi-final match against East Bengal FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday. Racism has no place in football, or in any aspect of life, and we unequivocally condemn such behaviour,” NEUFC said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our fans are an integral part of our team, and we stand united against any form of discrimination. We have already brought this matter to the attention of the tournament organisers, and the local officials.
We’d like to thank the Indian Army and the local police officials for taking swift action against the perpetrators. We are also grateful to them for providing adequate protection to our fans and escorting them to their desired location.”
NorthEast United had scored the first goal of the match, with Michel Zabaco finding his name on the scoresheet and Konsam Phalguni Singh doubled the lead in the second half.
However, East Bengal clawed back into the match, with goals from Naorem Mahesh Singh and Nandhakumar Sekar, forcing the match into penalties. It was in the second half that tensions flared between the two sets of fans, with both sides involved in racist slurs and abuses.
Emami East Bengal also released a statement a day after the match, condemning any form of racism or discrimination from fans of either side.
“East Bengal FC condemns all forms of racism. there is no room for discrimination in football, a sport that unites people,” the club said.
East Bengal went on to win the match 5-3 on penalties to secure a spot in the Durand Cup final after 19 years. It will face either FC Goa or Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the final on September 3.