Mohun Bagan organized a small ceremony on October 18 to celebrate winning the I-League. The Mariners secured the championship on March 10 with 4 games to spare but their celebrations were muted due to COVID-19 which abruptly put an end to the I-League season.
Since Mohun Bagan is moving on to the Indian Super League (ISL), the club decided it was time to go ahead with a small celebration at a 5 star hotel.
Celebrations Erupt In Kolkata
Sunando Dhar, CEO of the I-League presented the I-League Championship to Mohun Bagan players and coaching staff at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kolkata. There were a number of VIP guests and dignitaries present including Aroop Biswas, sports minister for West Bengal and Swapan Sadhan Bose, President of Mohun Bagan.
Mohun Bagan’s head coach Kibu Vicuna did not attend the function but sent a video tribute congratulating the team and wishing them the best going forward. Vicuna has now moved on and is the head coach for the Kerala Blasters FC.
Mohun Bagan players took to social media to post pictures of their celebrations and later decided to take the trophy and go on a victory procession through the streets of Kolkata. When fans got word of the celebration, they thronged the streets of Kolkata in green to show support to their favorite team.
PM Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate Mohun Bagan on winning the I-League Championship, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee also tweeted and congratulated the Green and Maroon Brigade.
More than 50,000 fans took to the streets of Kolkata to celebrate the victory and to see their favorite players in the victory procession. All social distancing guidelines that were supposed to be in place to combat COVID-19 were broken causing concern in the state.
West Bengal continues to battle COVID-19 as there are currently over 3,20,000 people who have tested positive and over 6,000 who have died. The latest stats show that there were 3,983 new patients who tested positive for COVID-19 on October 18 and 64 people who died from COVID-19 on Sunday.
Mohun Bagan Says Cannot Control Fans
There were a lot of people who took to social media to slam the Mohun Bagan franchise for allowing their fans to assemble and breach all social distancing rules in Kolkata. The club also took to Twitter to showcase the mad scenes in Kolkata which also got a positive comment from Kiren Rijiju who is the Union Sports Minister.
Rijiju tweeted saying that this was the famous Kolkata football festival scenes that he enjoyed the most and congratulated Mohun Bagan. He also wished them the best for the ISL season which will be their first season for the club.
Neither PM Modi, CM Mamata Banerjee or Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had anything negative to say about the thousands of fans in the streets of Kolkata. Srinjoy Bose, General Secretary for Mohun Bagan admitted that he was concerned to see so many fans assemble in the streets but also admitted that he was unable to control the fans and claimed the situation was out of his hands.
Bose clarified that the Mohun Bagan did not encourage any of its fans to assemble for the victory procession and said it was because of their passion and love for the club that they were willing to take to the streets and celebrate. Bose also got a bit feisty and said the Central Government had eased the lockdown restrictions and allowed public transport which enabled thousands of fans to assemble.
Bose claimed if the Central Government had a strict lockdown in place, then the club would have abided by those guidelines and so would the fans.