Kolkata: The I-League was Monday suspended for at least six weeks by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). This decision was taken after a fresh Covid-19 outbreak hit the participating teams inside the bio-bubble here. It has been learnt that the total number of Covid-19 cases now stands at 45 after the latest round of tests. This high number of cases prompted the AIFF to suspend the I-League.
“The League Committee, abiding consensus of all participating clubs as per the suggestion of Dr Harsh Mahajan (member of AIFF Sports Medical Committee) ratified the decision to postpone the ongoing Hero I-League 2021-22 for at least six weeks,” the AIFF said in a release.
The I-League Committee, chaired by senior AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta, will have a review meeting after four weeks. The future course of action will be determined then.
The health protocols of the bio-bubble will continue till January 7, as all teams will be tested again Wednesday. The teams can travel back to their respective destinations once they are tested negative.
Players and officials, who have tested positive in the team hotels, have already been isolated. They will be treated and quarantined here as per the health parameters laid down. They will be allowed to leave the bio-bubble after they test negative.
The fresh round of Covid-19 cases has thrown the I-League into jeopardy. With Covid-19 cases surging throughout the country, including in Kolkata and its suburbs where the I-League is being held, it will be a tough task ahead for the organisers to resume it.
“The omicron variant spreads very fast but also comes down very rapidly. We also need to take account and consider the government regulations and policies,” Mahajan said, giving hope of resumption of the I-League after the situation gets better.
Mahajan informed the clubs and the AIFF about the rising number of cases in India, the new Covid-19 norms and restrictions being implemented by West Bengal government.
The clubs appreciated the efforts made by the AIFF to give paramount importance to the health and safety of the players and officials. “The AIFF did their best under the circumstances and helped the players and officials in the best possible way. We appreciate their efforts,” Real Kashmir owner Sandeep Chattoo said.
The I-League was suspended December for a week after Covid-19 breached its bio-bubble. Eight players and three officials had tested positive for the dreaded virus, last week.
Five players and three team officials from Real Kashmir FC, one player each from Mohammedan Sporting, debutants Sreenidi Deccan FC and Aizawl FC had returned positive.
Thirteen teams are competing in this year’s I-League across three venues. They are the Mohun Bagan Ground here, the Kalyani Stadium at Kalyani and the Naihati Stadium at Naihati. Only six matches of the I-League season have been played so far – December 26 and 27 – before it was suspended.