2 months after suspension due to Covid-19 outbreak, I-League to resume on March 3

Two months after being suspended due to Covid-19 outbreak inside its bio-bubble in Kolkata, the I-League season will resume on March 3, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has announced.

The federation said the bio-bubble will start re-functioning from February 20 onwards and some strict Covid-19 protocols will be in place to ensure the safety of the players and other officials. Notably on January 3, the I-League season was suspended by the AIFF due to a fresh Covid-19 outbreak hitting the participating teams inside the bio-bubble in Kolkata.

As many as 45 Covid-19 cases had hit the league which had foeced the AIFF to suspend the league for at least six weeks following which the players and officials had left the bio-bubble.

In a statement, the AIFF said: “Continuing as before, the Hero I-League will be played from within the safety of a bio-bubble, which will begin on February 20, with the players and officials needing to travel with three negative RT-PCR tests before joining the bio-bubble.”

“Additionally, on the advice of Dr. Harsh Mahajan, Member of AIFF’s Sports Medical Committee, every players is also required to do a 12 lead ECG before arrival,” it added.

Once inside the bio-bubble, all the players and officials will need to serve seven days in quarantine and as many as three tests will be done on them.

On returning three negative RT-PCR tests in quarantine, the players and officials will then be free to operate from within the bio-bubble and attend their training and practise sessions, team meetings, warm-up matches and their respective fixtures.

“We had stopped the league initially as we wanted to ensure the safety of the players and officials involved, and did not want COVID-19 to spread,” AIFF Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar said addig: “Now after getting the clearance from the relevant authorities and a go-ahead from Dr. Harsh Mahajan, we feel that with the positivity rates going down, this is the best time to restart the season.”

“I have been in touch with all the clubs, and they have all expressed their excitement, and are looking forward to the restart,” he added.

So far, only six matches of the I-League season have been played so far— on 26 and 27 December— before it was abruptlt suspended. On December 29, the I-League season was suspended for a week after Covid-19 had breached its bio-bubble and as many as eight players and three officials had returned positive for the deadly virus.

Meanwhile, there will be no change in format of the I-League season and the 13 teams will play against each other once in a round-robin format in the first round. After the completion of the first round, the teams will be divided into two groups. While the Group A will consist of the top seven teams that will fight for the championship title, the Group B will consist of the bottom six teams which will fight for a relegation battle.

Each club will play their opponents in their respective groups once in a round-robin format in the second round.

In the upcoming second phase after the halt, the matches will be played across three venues— Kalyani Municipal Stadium, Naihati Stadium and the Mohun Bagan Ground in Kolkata.

News Desk

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