With less than two months to go for the new season of the Indian Super League (ISL) in Goa, teams were supposed to reach various parts of the host state between 25th and 30th September and enter a bio-secure bubble as part of their preparations. However, The Times of India reports that six footballers have tested positive for Covid-19 just before arriving in Goa.
Although their identity has not been revealed, the report states that the players are from ATK Mohun Bagan, FC Goa and Hyderabad FC and that while two of the players have already recovered, the remaining four are quarantining at home.
ISL regulations state that any player or official who tests positive has to isolate for 14 days according to the government guidelines with subsequent tests on the 10th, 12th and 14th day of isolation. This means that the afflicted players will now be able to travel to Goa only after getting negative results from the 12th and 14th day tests. Along with that, the player also has to obtain a fitness certificate allowing him to travel, and has to share it with the league.
While the aforementioned clubs have to now navigate the situation carefully, Bengaluru FC, whose players tested negative the first and second time, underwent the third test yesterday. They are now waiting for the final clearance before starting their training camp at their training centre in Ballari.
Kerala Blasters is another team whose players tested negative during the first test with two more rounds of testing to follow. On the other hand, Jamshedpur FC, North East United FC, Odisha FC, Chennaiyin FC and Mumbai City FC are yet to conduct testing on their players.
The TOI report states that this is mainly due to the fact that according to ISL guidelines, the 3rd test needs to be conducted not more than 48 hours before the teams arrive in Goa. Although all the teams have decided on the training facilities in Goa beforehand, a lack of clarity regarding the starting date of their preseason is what has kept them from testing their players as yet.
This once again highlights the difficulties associated with organizing an event of such scale amidst the pandemic and definitely lays down a marker for teams in terms of the protocols that need to be followed and the kind of discipline that has to be maintained by everyone. If the European leagues are any indication, more such incidents are bound to happen as we get closer to the start date of 21st November. Hence, all we can hope for is that the teams and players learn from their indiscretions and do everything necessary to keep themselves and those around them safe.