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FC Goa condemns the acts of premeditated vandalism that took place on Sunday at the Salvador do Mundo Village Panchayat Ground, the Club’s practice ground since the start of the 2020/21 season by the members of the Panchayat led by newly elected Sarpanch, Antonio Fernandes.

The state of Goa has over 200 football fields spread across it’s land and despite their presence most of these grounds remain unused due to the poor ground conditions and the cost of maintenance. As a result, despite the state enjoying a rich heritage and appetite for football, many local talents continue to slip through the net.

As part of its attempts to create a greater bond with the local community and create local hubs for football, the club entered into a 3-year partnership with the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat in May 2020 with the intent to further grow the Goan and Indian football ecosystem.

The partnership entailed the development of two football grounds – one of which had been playing host to the FC Goa first team as its practice ground. The other was developed for the use of the Panchayat and the local residents with the primary aim of providing a good playing ground for the locals to avail.

Over the past one and a half years, the Club has spent close to Rupees One Crore on refurbishing the turf and has remained committed to developing the infrastructure at the Salvador do Mundo Panchayat Ground at it’s own cost (close to Rupees Two Lakhs a month) whilst also looking to develop the local talent in the region by imparting technical know-how and foster community development by means of the beautiful game through coaches from FC Goa.

For the same, the Club scouted, trained and provided technical infrastructure to the U14 and U18 teams of Sporting Club of Porvorim, the first member of FC Goa’s feeder club program. Over the last two months, FC Goa has also organised grassroots festivals every Sunday for boys and girls of the Porvorim region in the U-12 and U-10 categories.

During this period of time, to extend further support to the community, FC Goa has been helping financially in the maintenance of the venue which entails other sporting facilities and activities for the locals.

However, on Sunday afternoon, without any prior intimation and in an attempt to gain local political leverage, the football pitch was desecrated as the turf was dug up and later filled with concrete. The actions have led to the damage of the drainage and watering facilities of the ground – making the place unfit for the footballing activities that were being carried out.

The Club finds the Panchayat’s claims of looking to build infrastructure of Cricket via a concrete pitch misleading and no communication of the same was ever received by the club.

The actions are in breach of the MoU signed. FC Goa refuses to be intimidated by these acts and will endeavour to explore all legal options available to mitigate the matter at the earliest.

Provisions already in place

FC Goa would like to clarify that it believes that the locals have been misled in regards to the terms and conditions of the partnership with false accusations brandished and recently published in media outlets.

In lieu of the sizable investment, the Gaurs’ right to use the facilities without payment only exists for the first three years of the partnership – taking in the factor of the sizable initial investment on development of the football pitches. Following the initial three years there are provisions in place in the initially signed MoU for mutual agreement on the commercial aspects if FC Goa are to continue using the facilities.

The renovation efforts were also the pilot of FC Goa’s Field of Dreams project – an endeavour undertaken by the Club to provide better footballing facilities across the state, to provide better infrastructure to budding footballers.

The Club at this time would request the Government of Goa to intervene at the earliest in regards to the matter.