They’re coming. No, they’re not. Yes, they are. No, er, yes, erm. NO!
That’s the state of the Manchester United–Juventus match in Kolkata.
As far as Manchester United is concerned, there is no match slated in Kolkata. The only two matches announced on the team’s website are a 25 July match in Shanghai and a 5 August match in Norway.
“United rule out India trip”, says the UKPA.“Manchester United will not be making their first pre-season trip to India this summer. Reports had emerged suggesting the Red Devils were being lined up for a high-profile friendly with Juventus, scheduled to take place in Kolkata on August 1. As recently as Tuesday, it was suggested the Indian Football Federation had given the green light to the venture,” PA’s report says.
The match was first reported in The Times of India on 5 June 2012, when the paper said “Red Devils set to play Juve in Kolkata”. “West Bengal sports minister Madan Mitra told TOI on Monday that talks with representatives of both clubs are in the final stages and August 1 has been set as the tentative date. The organiser, a global event management company that declined to be named because of a confidentially clause, said both clubs had confirmed they were available to play in the city on August 1.”
Later in the day, the match was in doubt, but, miraculously, things became ‘fine’.
5 June 2012: Football-crazy Kolkata await Mancheter United Juventus clash, says Times of India. “This match will be held only after AIFF’s approval. There was a communication gap (with the AIFF). But, everything is fine now,” West Bengal Sports Minister Madan Mitra said at the Writers’ Buildings after talking to AIFF secretary Kushal Das over phone,” reported TOI.
After the UKPA reported that Manchester United has stated that they have not scheduled any match in Kolkata, The Times of India quoted an unnamed ‘organiser’ as insisting that the match would take place. Yesterday, TOI said “Man U Juventus match under a cloud”. “The much-hyped Manchester United’s trip to India for a friendly against Juventus was cancelled, a British media report claimed, though the Bangalore-based organisers insisted that the match was still on and a contract would be signed “within a week”,” the paper said.
It’s difficult to believe the unnamed Indian organisers. The friendly was ‘cancelled’ says the Times of India report — but that’s not what the UKPA says. “However, it appears the reports are false, with United officials confirming to Press Association Sport on Thursday morning that no trip to India will be incorporated within United’s pre-season schedule.” It appears that the friendly was never scheduled — so it couldn’t be ‘cancelled’.
Who’s goofed up? The mysterious organisers? An over-eager sports minister in West Bengal?