Kolkata has been given the green signal to host the new season of I-League in December, later this year for the second time where the Indian Football Association (IFA) is headquartered. This news was confirmed by India’s football governing body All India Football Federation (AIFF).
In January 2021, West Bengal was announced as a COVID-19 safe region, which has allowed the league to be played across the state in three different locations with strict restrictions for the players, coaches, and staff. The previous edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) was also moved to Goa. Subrata Dutta, senior vice-president of AIFF, revealed in a virtual meeting last week about the possible venue of the tournament.
“We are looking at a tentative date of mid-December onwards for kicking off the Hero I-League. We are in talks with the Indian Football Association (Bengal), and also the government of West Bengal to successfully organize the League in Kolkata and its suburbs like the last edition.”
Dutta also added that his committee is looking forward to taking necessary precautions as there is a possibility of a third wave of COVID-19 in the country in the upcoming months. Meanwhile, the decision on Hero Indian Women’s League which was postponed earlier is still yet to be made. There were discussions going on with Odisha Sports, the final round hosts of the league.
The pandemic has caused serious problems for the women’s league as the winner of the league will further qualify for the 2021 AFC Women’s Club Championship. If the competition is not played this year, previous year champions will make their place again into the AFC Championships.
It is also reported that the number of games will ascend from 80 to 114 in the next edition, with 13 teams competing against each other for the title. Hero I-League qualifiers will begin in Bangalore from September this year. Before the league begins, the Indian football governing body has decided to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for players above 18-years of age. Staff, officials, and coaches will also get the vaccine before the season kicks off. Last season, Gokulam Kerala won their first-ever I-League title with 16 points in the regular season and 29 points in the Play-off season.