ISL 2021-22 | No immediate plan to halt ISL: AIFF

The bubble in Goa has been hit by COVID cases, forcing postponement of many matches

The Indian Super League season will chug along despite a COVID -19 outbreak in the bubble in Goa that has brought the postponement of six matches, including Friday’s game between Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC at Bambolim.

All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das said that ISL will not take an immediate break despite several players, coaching staff, family members, and hotel staff inside the ISL bubble testing positive.

The affected teams have been barred from training and have struggled to field competitive XIs. In contrast, the I-League was suspended after just one round of fixtures as cases mounted.

“We have a strong medical team. It [decision] can’t be based on sporting merit, but on medical advice,” said Das. “There have been a few cases here and there. ISL was nearly 45 days into the competition before we started having cases. With I-League, it was reported in the first round.”

Only Chennaiyin FC and Mumbai City FC have not reported any cases while ATK MB is the worst-hit, with three of its matches already called off.

SC East Bengal CEO Shivaji Samaddar has called for a circuit breaker to help stabilise the situation. “A break of around 10 -12 days is quite necessary. A lot of clubs believe a break will sort things out. Instead, the ISL management spoke about putting in stricter SOPs and continuing. They have made the gymnasiums out of bounds and made tests mandatory every day even to go to practice,” Col. Samaddar said.

Chennaiyin FC’s Hungarian boss Bozidar Bandovic, however, doesn’t want the league to pause. “We don’t have cases. We’ve been following all the rules and protocols. What other teams do and how they’ve got cases, that’s a question for others. For us, there is no question of a break,” he said.

Bengaluru FC coach Marco Pezzaiuoli doesn’t favour a break too. “If the League takes a break and has to be finished within the same timeframe, then it means an already tight schedule has to be made tighter," he said. "Players stand a big risk of injuries or burn out.”

(With inputs from Amitabha Das Sharma)

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