AFC Cup 2021 matches postponed, Bengaluru FC asked to return home
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2021 Group D matches have been postponed indefinitely in the Maldives following an incident of COVID protocol breach by Bengaluru FC footballers.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2021 Group D matches have been postponed indefinitely in the Maldives following an incident COVID protocol breach by Bengaluru FC footballers. AFC has asked participating clubs to make their own arrangements to return home while adhering to Covid-19 protocols.
"The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) can confirm that the AFC Cup (South) Group D matches, which were scheduled to take place from May 14 to 21, 2021, will not be held in Male, Maldives," AFC's statement read. "At the same time, the AFC is in contact with all other Participating clubs and officials who have not entered the Maldives to cancel their travel arrangements".
The latest development comes after Maldives sports minister Ahmed Mahloof accused the Sunil Chhetri-led club of breaching Covid-19 restrictions. He asked the Indian Super League (ISL) side to return home as they would not be able to host the match that is scheduled for May 11. Apart from the South Asian Zone play-off, Maldives was supposed to host Group D matches from May 14.
The Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Minister of Maldives, Ahmed Mahloof, took to his personal Twitter account to assert the same.
"Unacceptable behavior from @bengalurufc breaching the strict guidelines from HPA & @theafcdotcom. The club should leave (Maldives) immediately as we can't entertain this act. We honoured the commitment we gave a few months back even with the surge in cases & pressure from the public," he tweeted.
Mahloof further wrote that the ministry has informed about this breach to the Football Association of Maldives and have asked the association to arrange for the departure of Bengaluru FC to India.
"We have informed FAM that we cannot hold the match, and asked them to make arrangements for @bengalurufc's departure. We will be in further correspondence with AFC through @MaldivesFA to postpone the group stage," he wrote.
Replying on the developments of matter, Parth Jindal, the owner of Bengaluru FC sought apology for his team players' behaviour and said such instance will not be repeated. He took to Twitter and said, "On behalf of @bengalurufc I am extremely sorry for the inexcusable behavior of three of our foreign players/staff while in Male - the strictest action will be taken against these players/staff. We have let @AFCCup down and can only say that this will never happen again."
Bengaluru FC was expected to take on Maldives-based Eagles in an AFC Cup encounter on Tuesday. The future of the match now hangs in balance.
Prabir Das and SK Sahil of ATK Mohun Bagan returned positive after all the team members underwent Covid-19 tests at a private hospital in Kolkata before their departure to Male for the Group D matches beginning on May 14. The club was asked to cancel their trip after the positive reported.