Kolkata to host I-League 2021-22, qualifiers in Bengaluru

Gokulam Kerala FC will look to defend their I-League title in the next season. (Image; AIFF)
Gokulam Kerala FC will look to defend their I-League title in the next season. (Image; AIFF)

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced that the 2021-22 I-League will be held in Kolkata, West Bengal as a single venue event due to the possibility of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

Salt Lake Stadium, Kalyani Stadium, Kishorebharti Stadium and the Mohun Bagan Ground are shortlisted as possible host venues in Kolkata.

13 teams will play in I-League 2021-22

13 teams will play each other once before the top seven teams vie for the title and AFC Cup qualification in a separate single-legged league format. The bottom six teams will fight it out in the relegation battle.

There will be a rise in the number of games in the league stage due to the addition of the two teams into the league and the waiver of relegation for NEROCA FC. Gokulam Kerala FC are the defending champions of the I-League.

A total of 114 games will be played in the I-League 2021-22 instead of the earlier number of 80 games in the same format. The 6th placed team in the relegation round will drop down to the I-League 2nd Division or the I-League qualifiers in the 2022-23 season.

Newly founded Sreenidhi FC from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh will become the newest addition to the league stage after they won a bid to field a team through a franchise entry. Sreenidhi FC will be accompanied by the winners of the I-League 2021-22 qualifiers.

10 teams will play in the I-League 2021-22 qualifiers

The 2021-22 I-League qualifiers will be played at the Bengaluru Football Stadium in Bengaluru between 10 teams.

The I-League 2020-21 qualifiers were the first major sporting event to be held in India after the first wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic back in October 2020. The AIFF are looking to host 2021-22 I-League qualifiers in September before going ahead with the I-League in mid-December.

State Football Associations have been asked to nominate a maximum of two teams for the I-League's 2021-22 qualifiers. Only one club from the nominations made by each state association will be selected to play in the league based on merit and club licensing criteria.

Only states who have conducted a city/state league will be eligible to nominate teams to the AIFF.

No decision made on Indian Women's League 2020-21

The AIFF is yet to make a call to host the 2020-21 Indian Women's League which was supposed to be held in Odisha.

The federation added that in case the IWL is not conducted due to health concerns, the previous winners of the IWL, Gokulam Kerala FC, will represent India in the second edition of the AFC Women's Club Championship in 2022.

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Edited by Rohit Mishra
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