Bengaluru Football Club owner Parth Jindal surprised football fans on Tuesday when he extended an open invitation to play an exhibition match with Real Kashmir Football Club in Srinagar. The invitation comes at a time when there is confusion surrounding Real Kashmir FC's I-league matches in Srinagar after Minerva Punjab Football Club refused to travel for a scheduled game citing security concerns due to the recent Pulwama terror attack.
Bengaluru FC has come forward to ease the tensions surrounding fixtures to be played in Srinagar by offering to play a friendly match whenever they are ready to invite the club. Owner Parth Jindal also described Kashmir as "a beautiful state that is an integral part of our great country".
Dear @realkashmirfc we @bengalurufc are ready to come and play an exhibition match in Srinagar against youll whenever you invite us. We look forward to the opportunity of sharing this beautiful game in your beautiful state which is an integral part of our great country.â€” Parth Jindal (@ParthJindal11) February 19, 2019
Bengaluru FC's goodwill gesture was appreciated by Real Kashmir FC, which responded with equal zest saying that the club and the people of Kashmir would be happy to host Bengaluru FC in March.
Thank you @ParthJindal11 and @bengalurufc. Letâ€™s do this. We and the people of Kashmir would be more than glad to host you. March? What say? We promise the most electric football atmosphere! Letâ€™s play to heal. Letâ€™s pray together for the departed and share the grief of bereaved. pic.twitter.com/x7YG2Jx7ITâ€” Real Kashmir FC (@realkashmirfc) February 19, 2019
Parth Jindal then appeared to confirm the plans to arrange the exhibition match in Srinagar.
The club from Jammu and Kashmir, founded in 2016, plays its home matches at the TRC Turf Ground in Srinagar. The club has never played against Bengaluru FC since it earned promotion to the I-League in 2018 after the latter switched to playing in the Indian Super League (ISL). This has left several fans hopeful over the prospect of the two teams facing off each other.
The confusion surrounding Real Kashmir FC's home games in Srinagar arose after the terror attack in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir in which 49 CRPF personnel lost their lives.
Minerva Punjab asked the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to postpone the club's I-league match against Real Kashmir FC in Srinagar on Monday. After the AIFF refused its request, the club sought written security assurances from either the Indian Army or the Home Ministry. Eventually, the club refused to travel to play the game.
Minerva's decision means that Real Kashmir FC will be awarded a 3-0 win in the fixture but even as the AIFF contemplates further action against Minerva, the club has moved the Delhi High Court over the issue.
Real Kashmir FC is set to play East Bengal in Srinagar on February 28 and the two teams are level on points and locked in a thrilling title-race with Chennai City FC in the league. The game between the two sides next week could yet turn out to be the title-decider.
Bengaluru FC's B Team is also set to travel to Jammu and Kashmir to play Lonestar Kashmir in an I-League second division game on February 28 at the same ground.