COVID Sweeps Through RKFC, I-League Suspended

KOLKATA- I-League was on Wednesday suspended for at least a week after COVID-19 breached its bio-bubble as eight players and three officials have tested positive for the dreaded virus.

Five players and three team officials from Real Kashmir FC, one player each from Mohammedan Sporting, debutants Sreenidi Deccan FC and Aizawl FC returned positive in the tests conducted on Tuesday.

“The next round of matches (on December 30 and 31) will be rescheduled. We will review the situation on January 4,” I-League Chairman Subrata Dutta told PTI after an emergency meeting.

The first round matches were played on Sunday and Monday while the third round games are scheduled for January 4 and 5.

The outbreak happened at the Novotel Hotel, one of the three bio-bubbles, set up by the organisers for the football league that began on Sunday.

Besides RKFC, Sreenidi Deccan and Mohammedan Sporting, the three other teams staying at the Novotel Hotel are Rajasthan United, Aizawl FC and NEROCA.

Dutta chaired the emergency virtual meeting of the League Committee to take a decision on continuation or suspension of the league.

“The Committee unanimously decided to postpone the Hero I-League 2021-22 matches for the next round which were scheduled on December 30-31, 2021,” the league statement said.

“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.”

It said all the players, staff and referees have been tested on Wednesday. They will be tested again on January 1 and 3.

RKFC owner Sandeep Chattoo admitted some of his team’s players have tested positive, though he did not share how many and who.

“Yes, RKFC has also some positive cases, players from all (six) teams are suspected (of COVID-19),” he said.

“There was one round of tests on December 21 and all my players were negative. This latest tests were done yesterday.”

Last season’s I-League, which was competed by 11 teams, was also held under bio-secure environment in Kolkata and Kalyani, and six COVID-19 cases were reported then.

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