A few Bengaluru FC players moved out of the bio-bubble, thereby breaking COVID norms

As you already know, the AFC Cup 2021 playoff game between Bengaluru FC and Club Eagles is in doubt after the Blues violated health guidelines issued by the Maldives Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

In an update to the situation, Maldives’ Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof spoke exclusively to Khel Now and made it clear that the country will not host the AFC Cup matches (both playoff and group stage) at any cost. In a detailed interview, Mahloof revealed that they are ‘disappointed’ at BFC’s actions, with players having stepped out of the bio-bubble and putting the future of the competition in jeopardy.

“Since the past week, the number of COVID-positive cases in Maldives has increased a lot. Today, Maldives has the highest per-capita COVID positivity in the world. In spite of all this, the HPA and the government had decided to go ahead with hosting the AFC Cup playoff match and group stages. The public were understandably worried and we took efforts to alleviate that by explaining the safety measures to the media,” he said, before revealing that they had, infact, held talks with the AFC regarding a potential postponement of the competition even before the Blues had landed in the country.

Mahloof said, “Even before Bengaluru FC’s arrival we had a chat with AFC regarding the possible postponement of the AFC Cup, but the federation responded by saying that it was too late to take such a decision. Hence, we went ahead and allowed the club to come to the country.

“It is important that we already have imposed certain restrictions on travellers from India, yet we gave BFC a special permit to arrive in Maldives for the competition.” he added.

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“So, the fact that some Bengaluru FC players still violated guidelines and roamed on the streets surprises me. It has agitated the public and put more pressure on the government, despite us putting so much of effort in hosting the competition,” Ahmed Mahloof went on. “Other teams like Maziya S&RC and Club Eagles are in hotel quarantine and following the rules religiously. So, I am rather sad and disappointed that a professional club like Bengaluru FC flouted those rules.

“I am told by the Football Association of Maldives that they have met and discussed the situation with the AFC match commissioner. I strongly believe that AFC will take the matter seriously. Meanwhile, we have decided that we will not host the playoff game at any cost,” the minister concluded.

Following Ahmed Mahloof’s comments, the AFC are likely to take a decision on postponing the playoff match between Bengaluru FC and Club Eagles and also the matches of Group D which includes ATK Mohun Bagan.

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