As reported by the Times of India, the AFC Cup 2021 is likely to be called off. Indian clubs ATK-Mohun Bagan have already qualified for the group stages, while Bengaluru FC is one step away from qualification. It will be the second year running that Indian clubs will miss out on playing in the AFC Cup; last year, the tournament was canceled because of the covid-19 pandemic.
The AFC is likely to cancel Group D(South Zone), citing the force majeure situation. Force majeure is a clause in a contract that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when extraordinary events or circumstances beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, epidemic, or sudden legal changes prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. (Source of definition: Wikipedia)
Group D matches were supposed to happen in the Maldives earlier this year in May, but due to the alleged breach of the covid protocols by some Bengaluru FC players, the tournament had to be postponed by the AFC.
The AFC rescheduled the matches to August, between 18th to 24th, and has asked the countries to make a bid. The Maldives has again shown interest in hosting the tournament. Sources of TOI have said that India has not offered to host the tournament, while Bangladesh is planning to host the matches in Sylhet.
Both ATK-Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC have signed quality players to their squad and have been planning their pre-season with respect to the AFC Cup matches.
Last year, the tournament was canceled due to the global pandemic; Bengaluru FC and Chennai City FC were supposed to represent India at the continental stage. It looks like this year, ATK-Mohun Bagan and BFC will go through the same fate if a venue is officially confirmed in the coming days.