Football for the distressed
The Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) will have to rely on only the three-match Abahani-Mohamme-dan football series to raise fund for the cyclone-affected people after its plan to stage a concert for the same cause was not approved.
The National Sports Council (NSC) did not give permission to hold a concert on December 8 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, where the three matches will be played on December 3, 5 and 7.
It was learned that during two previous concerts, the athletics turf at the BNS was damaged and the NSC did not want to risk the precious turf.
The BFF has taken the initiative to help the distressed people of this month's Cyclone Sidr, which ripped through the southern part of the country and left more than 3,000 people killed and thousands homeless.
"Abahani and Mohammedan have come forward to help us for the noble cause and I believe, as the two popular clubs are lynchpin of local football, their fans would make it a success," said BFF acting general secretary and series organising committee's member-secretary Manzoor Hossain Malu at a press conference yesterday.
Co-chairmen Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan and Kazi Nabil Ahmed were also present.
"Our target is to make the 33,000-capacity stadium house-full in every match," said Malu adding that the BFF has taken extended measures for publicity.
Tickets will be sold in different areas across the capital with footballers, clubs, organisers and the media helping achieve the target.
"We had been preparing for the Friendship Cup international tournament which has been postponed and after a short break, our training has already begun," told Mohammedan general secretary Lokman whose side will play exhibition matches in Sylhet and Tangail today and tomorrow.
"Although charity, the matches will have a competitive edge because an Abahani-Mohammedan affair is always a matter of prestige. The distressed people in south are fighting to get back normalcy in their life and I hope, like the two teams, people will come out to help them for a good cause as well as enjoying football," said Abahani director Nabil.
Abahani, who were ousted from the 56th Bordoloi Trophy in Assam, are expected to get back to training tomorrow.
The series bylaws have yet to be finalised and Lokman informed that the committee will decide how many foreign and guest players would be allowed for the teams.
Radio Today, as media partner, will broadcast updates but the matches will not be shown live on television. Virgin has been named as official drinks.
The 90-minute matches will start at 4.30pm with tiebreakers at the end in case of a draw. The two teams will receive champions and runners-up trophies.
Gallery tickets worth Tk 30 will be available at booths throughout the city and at the stadium counters on matchdays. A fan will be able to watch all three matches with a single ticket priced at Tk 75. VIP tickets will cost Tk 100 each.
The organising committee has decided to invite separate guests for the three matches. Bangladesh Olympic Association and NSC chief General Moeen U Ahmed is expected to distribute prizes as chief guest of the final match.