COVID-19 has become a part of everyone’s lives for the past couple of years. World sport, unfortunately, is no exception. Be it football, cricket or even basketball, the world leagues all around have seen postponements, cancellations and in some cases both. The latest to join the bandwagon is the Indian Super League (ISL) eighth season.
Having seen four postponements by the 18th of January, the marquee league of Indian football has come under scrutiny. Kerala Blasters FC did not have the “required number of players” for the match against Mumbai City FC on Sunday. The league leaders Kerala were forced into isolation since their clash against Odisha FC and couldn’t have a single training session either. The latest to join the bandwagon is Jamshedpur FC whose game against Hyderabad FC was postponed on the 18th.
There is utter chaos though, as far as communication is concerned. There were no indications of postponement when the CEOs met earlier on Sunday and both the clubs even shared their teams via Twitter. It was less than three and half hours before the game that the eventual postponement came.
Where does that leave the league? Except for Hyderabad, Mumbai City and Chennaiyin FC all the teams are currently in quarantine at the moment. Goa are allowed to step out of their hotel rooms only for training at the nearby ground. The organisers did have an urgent meeting with all the CEOs on Sunday, but the word is still not out on the postponement of the league.
Leading betting site FreeTips.com has learned that there were at least 60 positives within the eight so-called bio-secure bubbles and that is a fair indicator of where we are heading. The bubbles are breached and the biggest counts are coming from three teams. Mohun Bagan, Goa, and East Bengal have had 37 cases so far amongst them.
Despite all the noise and confusion around the cases, the organisers are reluctant to postpone the league. According to a senior official, postponement is not considered so far and matches will be evaluated based on the ability (or otherwise) of the teams to field 15 players.
The uncertainty over the games has increased nervousness among the players and support staff with Goa FC complaining about rearranging the line-up on the way to the stadium to face NorthEast United. The players fear that the four-tiered bio-bubble is now adulterated and is in danger of diluting the competition. Edu Bedia of the Goa FC even went ahead to vent his frustrations on Facebook slamming the league for the rules and noting that March (end of the league) couldn’t come sooner.
There are pros and cons on both sides of the decision, which won’t be easy for the ISL organisers. The increasing cases in India is another cause of concern as the onset of a third wave is unnerving on the organisers. However, for now they are happy to push the limits and keep playing.
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