Amid mounting opposition over the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA)'s plans to host the India-West Indies ODI in November at Kochi, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday said hosting the match could damage the FIFA approved World class Football Turf. He batted for Thiruvananthapuram to host the one-day international cricket match between India and West Indies on November 1 instead of the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi, which was last used for the U-17 Football World Cup. "Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily co-exist, he tweeted.
Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily coexist. pic.twitter.com/rs5eZmhFDP— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 20, 2018
Tendulkar said he has taken up the matter with the cricket board BCCI.
"Urged Shri Vinod Rai (chief of the committee of administrators) who has promised to look into the matter. Hoping that neither the cricket nor the football fans are disappointed," he said.
Kerala Football Association and football lovers in the state have expressed concern over the move by the KCA to host the cricket match at the Kochi stadium, which is also home to the Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters FC, co-owned by Tendulkar.
They raised apprehension that hosting a cricket match on November 1 in the stadium would damage the world-class football turf and affect the ISL season that usually begins in October every year and lasts for around four months.
The KCA made a move to host the ODI in Kochi stadium after the BCCI decision to award it the right to host the ODI.
Earlier in the day, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor has said the association's move was 'suspect'.
Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram MP, said he has already spoken to Rai against the KCA's "bizarre" decision to transfer an ODI match from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi.
"He has promised to review the matter. KCA's motive is highly suspect", Tharoor had tweeted.
"Turf laid for top-class football would have to be dug up, while a cricket-ready SportsHub stadium in Trivandrum, the best in India, lies idle. Who gains from this suspect decision?', he asked in the tweet.
Kerala Blasters team member Iain Hume expressed his dismay over the move saying it was upsetting.
"I understand there is a lot of cricket in India. But I also understand that there is a lot of football in Kerala".
Another Blasters key player C K Vineeth said the Jawaharlal Stadium in Kochi is one of six in India that are approved by FIFA, a certification that will take immense effort to obtain again.
When India has been known for being a 'cricket crazy' nation, is it really necessary to dig up a football pitch to play a cricket match? #SaveKochiTurf, he tweeted.
Veteran footballers I M Vijayan and C V Pappachan have also come out against the move.