In the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, Bangladesh finished as runners-up behind Palestine in group D and was on the brink of advancing into the finals of AFC Challenge Cup as one of the two best runners-up from the five groups until Brunei from group E pulled out of the qualifiers to make matters critically complicated.
According to the by-laws (Article 16.1) of AFC, if any team pulls out of group/qualifiers, the results of the matches involving the fourth team of other groups will not be considered which is totally ridiculous to say the least! Therefore, Bangladesh’s hope of advancing for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup was dashed according to this ridiculous rule.
But, interestingly AFC itself didn’t adhere to this rule and announced in its website that Bangladesh had qualified for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup ( which was the first mistake ) and other teams in the group had been awarded 3-0 win against Brunei ( !!!! ). This also was a mistake from the governing body of Asian football because if Brunei had given walkover after actually being present in the ground to play, only then AFC could award a 3-0 win to other teams against Brunei. And if that had happened, Bangladesh would have been through to the final round.
Here’s a little excerpt of what the AFC website said in the match report of Philippines versus Turkmenistan on March 26 :
“The other ticket went to Bangladesh who edged out India courtesy of a +5 goal difference compared to the +4 of 2008 AFC Challenge Cup winners.”
This assertion surely categorically indicated Bangladesh’s qualification in the final round.
But, this comedy of errors turned for another twist when AFC contradicted itself and announced on the basis of article 16.1 that Bangladesh was out of the final round and Laos would replace them as the second best runners-up as Bangladesh’s 4-0 win against Mariana Island was not considered due to Brunei’s withdrawal.
So, this drama of errors means that AFC lacked professionalism and guts to make the correct call at the very first time when Brunei pulled out. But now by excluding Bangladesh from the final round, it is actually taking shelter under the same rule (article 16.1) which it used to award final round’s ticket to Bangladesh.
What is it but a sheer lack of professionalism from the world’s largest continent’s governing body of such a popular game as football?
We, the football lovers of Bangladesh have found such unprofessional treatment from AFC totally abominable and unacceptable. We feel like we have been deprived wrongly of a chance to display our own brand of football. We are the descendants of a nation which takes pride in its effort to stand up against injustice and our nation’s glorious history bears a testimony of that pride. So, we won’t yield to such an injustice and we condemn AFC for that. We demand accountability from the part of AFC for all those errors. Our demands also include:
i. Legitimacy of the rule of a team being allowed to pull out one day before the match.
ii. A review of article 16.1 and Appendix 2 of the tournament regulations and suggest a total abolishment of such a ridiculous rule.
iii. Prohibition of a team from future AFC competitions if it pulls out of a qualifier one day before the match.
iv. Arrange Laos vs Bangladesh match on home & away basis to determine the second best runner up.
We want to build a strong public opinion as a form of protest against AFC's decision to exclude Bangladesh from AFC Challenge Cup 2014. And for that we need to have as many signatures as possible as an approval or support of this petition. So, we hope you would not only sign this petition but also invite others to support our noble cause by signing the petition for the sake of Bangladesh and more importantly for the sake of justice.