Kolkata, Sep 2 | Kolkata will host the Durand Cup — the oldest club football tournament in Asia — for the next five editions until 2025.
Lt. General Kamal Repswal (Chief of Staff, HQ Eastern Command, SM, VSM) made the announcement confirming the City of Joy as venue while addressing the media at Fort William during the unveiling of the iconic Durand Cup trophies in the presence of Aroop Biswas, Minister for Sports & Youth Affairs, Power in the Government of West Bengal.
Biswas informed that there will be minimal attendance in the stands at the beginning of the 130th Durand Cup, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The WB Govt. has allowed 50% capacity inside stadiums but the Durand Cup tournament committee, in light of the pandemic, has decided to allow minimal attendance and then gradually towards the end of the tournament, if everything goes well, we will allow 50% attendance in compliance with government norms during the latter stages,” he said.
“The 129th edition of the Durand Cup was held in Kolkata in 2019. The kind of response the tournament got in Kolkata was immense, with tremendous amount of support from the state government. I must mention it because of every department of the state govt. went out of their way to ensure the tournament becomes a success.
“You will all be very happy to know that for the next five years, Durand Cup will be conducted in Kolkata,” said General Repswal.
Only behind the English FA Cup and Scottish Cup (starting in 1871 and 1874 respectively) in terms of inception, the first-ever Durand Cup took place in 1888 — making it the oldest-running club football tournament in the world, and the oldest-running football tournament in Asia.
In the previous 129th edition, held for the first time in the city, Gokulam Kerala emerged champions, beating Mohun Bagan 2-1 in front of a packed stadium, to bag their first silverware in club history. They are back to defend that title.
A total of 16 teams are vying for the 130th Durand Cup and besides the defending champions, ISL franchise Kerala Blasters are also in the fray. The ISL is well represented with Bengaluru FC, FC Goa, Jamshedpur FC and Hyderabad FC joining the Blasters.
The century-old Mohammedan Sporting, the tournament’s first Indian winner will represent the local challenge along with another I-Leaguer team, Sudeva FC of Delhi.
A second team from Delhi and Bengaluru, Delhi FC and Bengaluru United bring up the second division challenge while the Army also has two teams in the form of Army Green and Army Red.
The Indian Air Force, The Indian Navy, The Assam Rifles and CRPF are the other four teams in the tournament to be played from September 5-October 3.