I-League 2021-22 is likely to be suspended after several players and officials have tested positive for coronavirus in Kolkata.
The I-League organising committee tweeted on Wednesday confirming the positive cases. According to sources, at least 11 persons associated with various teams have contracted the virus, but no official details have been released yet.
A senior official of the All India Football Federation confirmed the positive COVID-19 cases. It is learnt that the 11 have been hit and isolated. These include five players and three officials of Real Kashmir football team.
The teams are in a bio-bubble in four different Kolkata hotels. Yet an official each of Aizawl FC, Mohammedan Sporting and Srinidhi have contated the coronavirus.
The I-League organising committee is meeting at 4 PM on Wednesday to take stock of things. "Yes, we will have to suspend the tournament but we haven't decided the duration," a senior official told Outlook.
COVID and its new variant Omicron has been causing havoc across the world and several sports events have been hit. Last season, I-League staged a virus-free championship.
Mr. Subrata Dutta, Senior Vice President, All India Football Federation, and Chairman, League Committee chaired an emergency AIFF League Committee Meeting held via video conferencing today (December 29, 2021).
Besides, AIFF General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das and League CEO Mr. Sunando Dhar, Mr. Lalnghinglova Hmar, Mr. Chirag Tanna, Mr. Rochak Langer attended the meeting, while leave of absence was granted to Mr. Souter Vaz, Mr. Anil Kumar, and Mr. BK Roka. Dr. Harsh Mahajan, a Padma Shri, a member of the AIFF Sports Medical Committee was also present as a special invitee, as was Mr. Abhishek Yadav, Deputy General Secretary, AIFF.
The Committee deliberated at length about the current situation wherein positive cases have been detected among participating teams in the ongoing Hero I-League 2021-22, and also took into serious consideration Dr. Mahajan’s suggestions to adhere to medical parameters, and move forward together without making any compromise on the health of the players which is of paramount importance.
Dr. Mahajan, informed that there needs to be bare minimum contact among all for the next 5-7 days as studies indicate that both the Delta and Omicron variant can be passed onto other human bodies within the period.
Acting on the advice, the Committee hence, unanimously decided to postpone the Hero I-League 2021-22 matches for the next round which were scheduled on December 30-31, 2021.
All players, staff, and referees have already been tested today, and will be tested again on January 1 and January 3, 2022 respectively. The League will review the situation once all test results come in on January 4, 2022, and reach a consensus thereafter including the next round matches on Jan 4-5.
Meanwhile, all the players who have tested positive have already been moved to isolation with AIFF monitoring and arranging for subsequent regular medical consultations.