The 2021-22 edition of the league began on December 26.
Just three days after the start of a brand-new, 2021-22 edition of the I-League, a COVID-19 outbreak is now set to affect its continuation. Khel Now has learned that at least seven players and three staff members across three different I-League teams tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, December 29.
“There are at least ten COVID-positive cases in the I-League 2021-22 bio-bubble right now. They include five players and three staff members from Real Kashmir, and at least one player each from Mohammedan SC and Sreenidi Deccan. The outbreak happened at the Novotel Hotel, where each of these three teams are staying along with Aizawl FC, NEROCA FC and Rajasthan United,” a senior official of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) informed Khel Now.
He further added, “The I-League organizers are keeping a close tab on the developments and have already spoken to each of the clubs who are affected. In addition, an emergency meeting of the League Committee has also been summoned. As of now, it is likely that the league will be suspended for a short period of about two weeks, at least.”
“We are having an emergency meeting of the League committee at 4:00 pm on December 29 to decide on a future course of action. The safety of players and officials is paramount,” I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said, when asked about the situation.
Apart from RKFC, MDS and Sreenidi, Aizawl, NEROCA and RUFC are also suspected to have some COVID-positive cases. All of these teams have been accommodated in the Novotel Hotel as mentioned earlier.
A total of thirteen teams are competing in I-League 2021-22. The matches are being held across three venues – the Mohun Bagan Ground in Kolkata, the Kalyani Stadium at Kalyani and the Naihati Stadium at Naihati. Every other team apart from Kenkre FC have played one game each now, with the Maharashtra-based club yet to play their opening fixture scheduled for Friday, December 31 against RKFC.
As of now, it looks like that match and a few more will be postponed indefinitely, as the league is likely to be suspended. More details will be known after the League Committee meeting at 4:00 pm.