With opposition mounting over the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA)'s plans to host the ODI between India and West Indies at Kochi in November, former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar has intervened to resolve the matter.
Sachin has urged the KCA to make sure it takes a right decision in this regard so that both cricket and football can happily coexist. He suggested that the cricket match can be played in Thiruvananthapuram while Kochi, which offers a FIFA approved world class football turf, may continue to host soccer matches.
"Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily coexist," Sachin tweeted.
In another tweet, Sachin claimed that he has urged Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai to look into the matter. "Urged Shri. Vinod Rai who has promised to look into the matter. Hoping that neither the cricket nor the football fans are disappointed," he said.
India football captain Sunil Chhetri also came in support, saying: "We football fans in India have small joys and reasons to be happy about. A proper football pitch is one of them. Let's not snatch that away, even if it's for a little while."
Earlier in the day, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor stated that the move of KCA was 'suspect'.
Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram MP, said he has already spoken to CoA chief Rai against the KCA's "bizarre" decision to transfer an ODI match from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi, whose ground was last used for the U-17 Football World Cup.
"He has promised to review the matter. KCA's motive is highly suspect," Tharoor had tweeted.
In another tweet, the local MP thanked everyone for the outpouring of support for his firm opposition to KCA's shifting the ODI to Kochi.
"Turf laid for top-class football would have to be dug up, while a cricket-ready SportsHub stadium in Trivandrum, the best in India, lies idle. Who gains from this suspect decision?"
Kerala Blasters team member Iain Hume expressed his dismay over the move saying it was upsetting.
"I understand there is a lot of cricket in India. But I also understand that there is a lot of football in Kerala."
Another Blasters key player CK Vineeth said the Jawaharlal Stadium in Kochi is one of six in India that are approved by FIFA, a certification that will take immense effort to obtain 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? #SaveKochiTurf," he tweeted.
Veteran footballers IM Vijayan and CV Pappachan have also come out against the move.
(With PTI inputs)