Two players have tested positive for COVID-19 - one each from FC Bengaluru United and Bhawanipore FC - ahead of the Hero I-League qualifiers that are scheduled to commence from October 8 in Kolkata.
The AIFF made the announcement on their official website on October 1 but did not disclose the identity of the players. The official AIFF statement read, "It is to be notified that one player each from FC Bengaluru United and Bhawanipore FC have tested positive.
"All appropriate medical support is being given to the teams, and the players who tested positive are under medical supervision in a quarantined environment as required by the safety measures and COVID-19 protocols put in place for the tournament."
The qualifiers will be played at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, and the Kalyani Municipal Stadium at Kalyani and will see five teams play each other in a round-robin format. The team that finishes on top of the table after all the matches will gain entry into the 2020-21 I-League.
The AIFF statement further read, "The All India Football Federation (AIFF) in close coordination with the Indian Football Association and competent medical authorities are conducting regular COVID-19 tests on all participating officials, players and support staff for the forthcoming Hero I-League Qualifiers slated to kick-off in Kolkata on October 8, 2020.
"We request the media to kindly not speculate and allow some space to the concerned players. In addition, and as part of our commitment to ensure the safety of all participating teams and operational staff, the AIFF and the IFA will continue to conduct Covid-19 tests for all required personnel in line with the agreed safety regulations."
I-League 2020-21 likely to take place in Kolkata
The AIFF is yet to finalize the dates and exact venues for the 2020-21 I-League, although it is most likely that the entire tournament will take place in Kolkata. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unusual and challenging logistical task for all sporting events around the world with organizers trying to find ways to reduce travel and making space for contingencies like any positive tests and the protocol to be followed in case of one.
The ISL, which is expected to start in November, will provide a good blueprint for the I-League as to how to maintain all the safety precautions while conducting a big football league in the country.Published 02 Oct 2020, 12:01 IST