Panaji: Nobody really knows for how long everyone will have to remain indoors. For now, at least officially, it’s till April 14 and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will wait till then to take the next call on I-League and all other football activities.
Just like the rest of the world, football activities in India have come to a standstill for more than a fortnight now due to the coronavirus pandemic. The last match in the I-League was played more than a fortnight ago and questions are now being asked if a ball will be kicked again in the league. For now, even the AIFF doesn’t have an answer.
“At this point of time, everything is postponed till April 14. Once the situation is reviewed by the government and other agencies, we will accordingly take a decision. We are aware of the fact that even after April 14, we may have a problem (in conducting matches) but to say anything at this moment, will be premature,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told TOI.
Not a ball is being kicked anywhere in the world. In England, home to the English Premier League, the most high-profile and lucrative competition in the world, football continues to be disrupted by the outbreak and, as the UK finds itself midway through the second week of widespread isolation, uncertainty continues.
Even in India there is growing uncertainty. Mohun Bagan are already champions of the I-League with four rounds still left to be played, and there are important decisions to make surrounding relegation and prize money for the top six teams.
“The worry is obviously there that football may not be played again this season. These are unprecedented times. Obviously, we don’t know what’s going to happen. For now, we can only hope for the best,” said Das.
Should it become increasingly clear that the I-League cannot continue within the next fortnight, the AIFF executive committee will have tough calls to take.
“What next will be left for the executive committee to decide. If the league cannot be held to determine which team would be relegated and promoted (from the second division), we have an issue on our hands. But I am an optimist. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that the league resumes,” said Das.
The last fixture in the I-League was played between Neroca FC and Chennai City in Imphal on March 14. The Kolkata derby involving archrivals Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, which was scheduled a day later, was postponed indefinitely.