The GFA Secretariat took the decision without taking Ex-Co members into confidence.

The Goa Football Association (GFA) have suspended its top-tier Goa Pro League 2021-22 with immediate effect. In a letter sent to all clubs on Tuesday afternoon, the GFA mentions, “the abnormal rise in COVID-19 cases in Goa with the positive rate reaching 26.43% as of 4th January 2022” as the main reason behind the call. The association have also suspended the Vedanta Women’s League.

It was a shocking decision for the clubs who were participating in the league. Despite them being the stakeholders. clubs were kept in the dark about the decision.

When contacted for comment, GFA General Secretary, Jovito Lopes refused to answer anything. “I am not the right person to answer any query regarding today’s decision. I have been informed I am not the spokesperson of the association,” said Lopes. “You can ask Dominic Pereira, the chairman of the competition committee.” However, Pereira was unavailable when Khel Now contacted him.

Surprised by sudden decision

Most of GFA’s executive members, including GFA vice-president Anthony Pango, were shocked to learn the news from the letter forwarded by the GFA headquarters. “I am shocked and saddened to hear this. Normally, an Executive Committee meeting is held before any decision is taken. However, this time we were kept in the dark,” explained Pango. “As the GFA vice-president, I really want to say sorry to all the GPL clubs for the decision.”

A senior Executive Committee member Welwin Menezes revealed, “Members were not taken into confidence before such a big decision. We were not at all informed and came to know today morning through the letter sent from the headquarters.” He also added, “I really don’t know the brains behind this decision. Even the (Goa) government has not come up with any guidelines. But, the GFA has gone one step forward and suspended the league without knowing it’s consequences. The players who completely rely on the league for their bread and butter will suffer.”

Menezes also observed that perhaps the league could have waited a little longer and taken everything/everyone into account before making the call. “It was a question of few more matches of the first phase. With Ex-Co meeting is scheduled for January 12, they could have waited and collectively taken the decision after thoroughly understanding the situation.”

GPL’s main sponsor ‘Selvel One’ withdraw

It is also learnt that Selvel One, the main sponsor of GPL had recently pulled back. The broadcast of the league matches was stopped midway through the season. Following it, the GFA had also removed all hoardings from the stadium. The association also had forwarded a mail to all the GPL clubs stating “due to some unforeseen problems concerning the sponsorship, we request the teams to make their own arrangements to provide water to the players and officials on the day of the match until the future notice, from December 26, 2O21 onwards.”

“They are just hiding the main reason behind the league’s suspension. The main sponsor has pulled back and they (GFA) don’t have funds to run the leagues. They are just using the COVID-19 situation in the state to hide their failure,” another Ex-Co member informed Khel Now on condition of anonymity.

The disappointment was though not limited to club officials and members of the hierarchy. Fans, who often flock to the stadiums to watch their teams in action, were taken aback by this sudden call.

“It is really disheartening to hear that league has been suspended. This year the league was really interesting, especially with the top four teams,” said a senior fan, who always attends matches in Duler Stadium. “Even the relegation battle looked interesting, but now we don’t know when the league will resume. Or if it will resume at all.”

The 2021-22 edition of the Goa Pro League was supposed to be held in two phases, with all 12 teams playing each other in the first phase. In phase two, the top six teams would contest in the Championship stage, while the bottom six would battle among themselves to avoid relegation. Dempo Sports Club led the points standings with 19 points followed by Sporting Clube de Goa (18 points), FC Goa (17 points) and Vasco Sports Club (16 points).

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