ISLAMABAD - The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Sports Journalists Association (RISJA) staged a strong protest against Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Islamabad United for completely ignoring the sports body as well as keeping a mum on inviting the regional cricket associations of twin-cities at their launching ceremony.

Around 40 RISJA members were present during the protest in front of Pak-China Friendship Centre, where the event was launched. Complete chaos was witnessed, as the organisers had not only sold tickets of the event, but also issued free passes in bulks to near and dear ones. RISJA chairman Abdul Mohi Shah, senior vice chairman Nasir Aslam Raja and president Mohsin Ali tried their level best to contact Islamabad United owner Ali Raza Naqvi, but his cell phone was powered off.

When finally his country director Babar was contacted, he simply refused to cooperate with RISJA and saying he was busy and had other important areas to look after. He added they had hired a PR firm, who had contacted with media outlets.

It pertinent to mention here that Islamabad United completely ignored local players and coaches. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is solely responsible for highly disrespectful treatment to the coaches, players and elected journalists body of the twin cities. The sources told this scribe that mismanagement totally marred the launching ceremony families had to face huge embracement while trying to enter the venue.

Only one gate was opened and no exit point was arranged, while the masses had to return empty-handed, as the tickets were either sold out already or gifted to the blue-eyed persons.

The PCB had made it clear well before selling the franchises that only those persons would be allotted franchises, who had the knowhow of cricket and local players and coaches would be given top priority. Islamabad United owner Ali Raza had made tall claims during logo unveiling that locals would be included in different roles, but not a single local player, with only exception of Umar Amin, was considered by so-called federal capital representative franchise. Sohail Tanveer was highly sought after Rawalpindi Region player, but he was also ignored.

The disappointed local fans said that why they would support a team, which didn’t have a single player of the twin-cities. “On what grounds Ali Raza was given franchise ownership, when he doesn’t know the ABC of cricket,” they questioned.

Addressing the protest, RISJA chairman Abdul Mohi Shah demanded the PCB chairman Shahryar M Khan and PSL chairman Najam Sethi to launch an immediate inquiry and informed the media and locals why such a harsh treatment was rendered to RISJA and elected bodies of the twin-cities. “Other cities also hosted grand reception of their respective franchises and all were taken on board, why only Islamabad United was given free hand to extend such a harsh and unacceptable treatment to sports journalists. We warn the PCB to wake up or else we will spread our protest to other cities as well.”

Speaking at the occasion, RISJA senior vice chairman Nasir Aslam Raja condemned the behaviour of Islamabad United and demanded action against owners of the franchise. “We are sports journalists and always render our services to promote soft image of the country through sports. If such treatment is rendered to us, we will be left with no other option but to boycott all the PCB events in future and continue our legal protest till our demands are met.”

RISJA president Mohsin Ali thanked the sports body and masses for taking part in the peaceful protest. “We could have disturbed the event, but we are sports journalists and sports promoters, unlike of Islamabad United owners, who deliberately kept sports journalists and local associations away just to hide actual facts from masses. It is totally against norms and we demand action against United’s unethical and unjustified attitude. If we are not provided justice, we will continue countrywide protests.”