Football fans across India are eager for the Indian Super League (ISL) to commence. They don’t have to wait long the ISL teams have already landed in Goa and have started preparations for their pre-season camp.
Football Fans Turn Their Attention To Goa
The ISL is one of the biggest and most popular football tournaments in India and is similar to the Indian Premier League as it brings together the best domestic players in India and a number of overseas players. The 2020-21 ISL season will take place only in Goa as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided that it was best to limit the travel of ISL franchises in light of COVID-19 concerns.
The AIFF has created a bio-bubble in Goa and has restricted ISL games to just three stadiums. The three stadiums that will be used this season are GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Tilak Nagar Stadium in Vasco da Gama and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.
All of the ISL games will take place in empty stadiums as of now, although there is a push to see if the AIFF will allow a limited number of fans to enter at a later stage provided the COVID-19 situation improves in Goa.
Foreign Players Facing Visa Issues
The pre-season training camp has already commenced and ISL franchises have been allocated their respective training grounds and training times with the exception of the East Bengal franchise – which is the latest franchise to join the ISL.
Hyderabad FC, Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters and FC Goa have already started their training camps while the other franchises are in the process of commencing their training camps this week. Indian players have shown up and are ready to train but a lot of the foreign players are yet to arrive.
Foreign players have faced visa issue problems due to COVID-19 and many of them are going to miss the start of their training camp. Some of the foreign coaches have also faced similar visa issues and are looking to sort it out at the earliest so that they can be present during the training camp.
1 Coach And 7 Players Test Positive
The ISL camp has already been impacted as so far 7 players and 1 coach has tested positive for COVID-19. This does not come entirely as a surprise to ISL organizers as they had scheduled a total of 3 tests for each individual involved in the ISL during their first week in Goa.
Reports from inside the camp suggest that none of the players from Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City FC, Bengaluru FC, ATK Mohun Bagan, Odisha FC and Jamshedpur FC have tested positive. The teams that are reported to have COVID-19 positive players are FC Goa, Chennaiyin FC, Hyderabad FC and NorthEast United FC. East Bengal players have arrived late and are yet to complete their tests.
Different ISL franchises followed different COVID-19 testing protocols before showing up in Goa. Some teams decided to do nor testing and preferred to show up in Goa and get all of their testing done within the bio-bubble whereas other teams preferred to isolate for 7 days and complete 3 RT-PCR tests before traveling to Goa.
The players and coach who tested positive have been placed in quarantine for 7 days and will have to undergo 2 more COVID-19 tests which must show as negative before they are allowed to start training with the rest of their team.
The ISL Health and Safety Guidelines 2020-21 has stringent protocols in place to ensure that the ISL does not have a huge COVID-19 outbreak during the tournament. All players and staff are required to download and use the Aarogya Setu App during the ISL season.