Kochi Turf War: Cricket Match Shifted to Thiruvananthapuram

After days of speculation, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) has finally decided to shift the venue of the India-West Indies ODI, scheduled on 1 November 2018, out of the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kochi.

The match will now be held at the Green Field Stadium at Kariavattom in Thiruvananthapuram instead. The decision was made after a discussion with Kerala sports minister AC Moideen in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday morning.

According to KCA secretary Jayesh George, the decision was taken to shift the event out of Kochi after the sports minister gave an assurance at the meeting that support will be provided to build a new stadium at Kochi.

KCA General Secretary Jayesh George told media that the decision was taken as per the advice of the minister.

“The minister advised us to resolve the issue without any controversy. Also the minister gave assurance that the government will initiate the building of a new stadium at Kochi. It has been decided in principle to shift the venue. Final decision will be taken at the general body meeting of KCA, but the general body won’t go against the decision as we respect the government’s direction,” George told The News Minute.

On Wednesday, speaking to The Quint, Jayesh George had said that the cricket association had a meeting with the officials of Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), Kerala Blasters and the KFA in this regard on Wednesday.

"We had a discussion regarding this today and are looking at a possibility of hosting both the cricket as well as football matches at the same venue, like 2014. But if the ground hosts the ODI, few of the football matches might be shifted. " - Jayesh George, Secretary, Kerala Cricket Association

The FIFA-approved football turf at the venue, which is the bone of contention in the matter, will be damaged if cricket match is played on it. Regarding this, George had told The Quint that expert’s opinions are being sought to avoid damage to the turf while hosting the cricket match.

"An expert committee will be appointed by the GCDA, who will decide whether cricket can be played on the turf without damaging it. If they say we can’t, then we have to plan differently. Eventually GCDA will take the call." - Jayesh George, Secretary, Kerala Cricket Association

Earlier, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri and Kerala Blasters owner Sachin Tendulkar took to Twitter to criticise the decision of hosting an ODI featuring India and West Indies in November at the venue, despite a new cricket stadium being available in Thiruvananthapuram.

Some of Kerala Blaster players like CK Vineeth and even Iain Hume also expressed their disbelief at the decision and made a plea of not to tamper with the ground, which not only serves as their home ground but also hosted matches during the U-17 FIFA World Cup last year.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium belongs to the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and has been leased out to the KCA for a period of thirty years. From 2014, it has been serving as the home ground for Kerala Blasters and even hosted an Indian Super League final in 2016. Since 1997, the ground has hosted both cricket and football matches in Kerala.

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