The I-League 2021-22 season will resume on Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Kolkata after a brief pause to ensure the safety of all the players and officials involved in the league.
The I-League - India's second-tier football competition - was suspended in the first week of January earlier this year after more than 50 players tested positive for COVID-19. Prior to the suspension, only six matches were played on December 26 and 27, 2021. All players and teams are now expected to report by February 20.
Once inside the bio-bubble, each individual needs to serve seven days in quarantine with three more tests being done. On receiving three negative RT-PCR tests in quarantine, the players and officials will be free to operate from within the bubble and attend training sessions, meals, team meetings, and matches.
“We had stopped the league initially as we wanted to ensure the safety of the players and officials involved, and did not want COVID-19 to spread,” said AIFF Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar. “Now, after getting the clearance from the relevant authorities and a go-ahead from Dr. Harsh Mahajan, we feel that with the positivity rates going down, this is the best time to restart the season,” he added.
“I have been in touch with all the clubs, and they have all expressed their excitement, and are looking forward to the restart,” Dhar said.
There will be no change in format for the I-League, with the 13 teams set to play against each other once in a round-robin format, in the first round. Once the first round is concluded, the teams will be divided into two groups – the top seven teams in Group A competing for the championship title while the bottom six in Group B will be embroiled in a relegation battle. Each club will play their opponents in their respective groups once in a round-robin format, in the second round.
The matches will be played across three venues in Kolkata – Kalyani Municipal Stadium, Naihati Stadium, and the Mohun Bagan Ground.
Featured photo: AIFF Media