The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to conduct all I-League matches this season in Kolkata. This also includes the qualifiers for the second division league. AIFF has said that there shall be strict safety protocols in place in light of COVID-19.
The hosting rights for Kolkata
The decision to conduct all I-league matches in Kolkata was taken in a virtual meeting of the League Committee. Subrata Dutta who is the senior vice-president at AIFF had chaired the meeting.
Hero I-League is scheduled to start in the month of November. It is the country’s second-tier club competition and ISL the top tier league. The second division league is likely to kick off in the third week of September. Conduct of both the leagues is subject to government clearance.
The AIFF said in a release that the available infrastructure and granting requisite permissions are taken into consideration. Considering these the hosting rights are granted to IFA, Kolkata. Provisions will also be made for practice sessions for the participating clubs.
The committee said that the second division qualifiers will be more like a dress rehearsal before conducting the I-League. It is important for all the stakeholders to understand the COVID-19 bubble and follow protocols.
Vice President and General Secretary’s advice
Vice president Dutta sad that the AIFF will be responsible for the safety of players and officials. The department responsible for conducting the league has already put in place the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP). The SOP needs to be followed strictly by everyone associated. The onus is on AIFF and state associations to keep a strict vigil.
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das has suggested shortening the I-League duration. He further stressed on the safety of players and officials. It cannot be comprised under any circumstance. Das gave the example of global leagues shortening the format.
AIFF will look into shortening the various leagues for the safety of everyone. The duration of I-League and ISL needs to be looked upon again. He said that organising a huge league at a single venue is tough in the current situation.
The committee has granted an extension for the AIFF Academy Accreditation. All the important documents can be submitted until September 30.