There are multiple parties in this story. There are contracts, legal judgments, emails, and versions of those involved: Indian Football Association (IFA - West Bengal state football association), AIFF (All India Football Federation), player agents, former players, Kingfisher East Bengal (KEB) and finally the young winger Abinash Ruidas.
As a young boy, Abinash Ruidas could not choose between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. The dream, he says, was to play at the legendary Salt Lake Stadium; didn’t matter which of the football giants he suited up for.
He eventually did. For both.
Ruidas’ career started in his hometown Budge Budge. From there he moved to Goa’s Dempo Sports Club before returning to West Bengal with Bhowanipore F. C. Then came the first big break - signing with Mohun Bagan. That half of his dream was soured by him spending too much time on the sidelines. It is why he didn’t think twice when East Bengal (KEB) came calling, signing a one-year contract with the club for the 2014-15 season.
Now, having represented both Mohun Bagan and KEB, Ruidas had fulfilled his dream. Add to that the bonus of playing for a third Kolkata side, ATK; Ruidas was riding high.
He had barely turned 23.
The contract extension he signed with KEB was to end with the 2016-17 season. Maybe, he thought, it was time to move; the 2017 ISL draft was around the corner (in July). But maybe, just maybe, he would like to stick around.
“After the Federation Cup in Cuttack, East Bengal asked me to extend my stay at the club. I told them that I needed time to think about it. They would call me almost every other day and ask me to sign a new contract. I kept telling them I needed to discuss my next move with my family. Then they told me pointedly one day: ‘Are you going to sign for another club? Jidhar marzi hai jao (go wherever you want) but you will have to play here only... because you’ve already signed for two more years.’”
Ruidas claims that he did not sign anything.
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About the Writer
Pulasta is a football commentator and award-winning sports writer. He has worked for the All India Radio, BBC Leicester, The Post Newspapers-Zambia, Firstpost, Mint Lounge & Scroll among others.@TheFalseNo9