India midfielder CK Vineeth on Monday spoke out against reported plans to dig up the football pitch at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi in order to host an international cricket match. In a series of tweets posted on Monday, the 29-year-old from Kannur questioned the logic behind using a football ground to play cricket.
His comments came after various reports stated that the Kerala Cricket Association wanted to host the One-Day International between India and West Indies in November, which has been allotted to them, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, which is also home to the Kerala Blasters football club. The cricket match would clash with the Indian Super League, which starts in the October-November period.
“Over the course of this week, I have read various reports that the turf at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium will be dug up to help facilitate the ODI cricket match between India and West Indies,” tweeted Vineeth. “For many different reasons, I feel this is wrong.”
He added, “I believe that for sport to co-exist, it is important that they do not stop each other from growing. As a nation, we are fighting for success and to become better on so many fronts and a lot of time, effort and money has gone into the football pitch at the JN Stadium.”
Vineeth also pointed out that the stadium in Kochi was one of only six in India that are approved by Fifa and if it is dug up, it will be difficult to get the certification 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?” Vineeth tweeted.
The last international cricket match that was awarded to Kerala – a Twenty20 International between India and New Zealand in November last year – was played at Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. However, the Kerala Cricket Association told the New Indian Express that the match was not played in Kochi only because the stadium was being used for the Fifa U-17 World Cup.
“It was a one-off decision to play in the capital city as we had to respect the Fifa regulations,” KCA President Ronklin John told the newspaper. “We will definitely want to conduct the ODI in Kochi now that the World Cup is over.”
Shashi Tharoor, a Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram, also denounced the decision:
India are scheduled to host the Windies for five ODIs in Mumbai, Guwahati, Kochi, Indore and Pune in early November.