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I-League 2021-22 to be Held in Kolkata, May Start in Mid-December

I-League trophy

I-League trophy

The AIFF League Committee decided on Kolkata as the venue for I-League 2021-22, like last season.

I-League 2021-22 will be held in Kolkata and the season is likely to kick-off in mid-December, it was decided in the AIFF League Committee meeting which was held via video conferencing on Saturday. The 2020-21 season of the league was also held in Kolkata in a bio-bubble and it was a successful one. League CEO Sunando Dhar said that the League Committee is in talks with the Indian Football Association (Bengal) and the Government of Bengal to host the league once again.

Dhar, in the meeting, told the committee that the league will be played among 13 teams this season and that the format will be the same as the last edition. In the previous edition of the I-League, all the teams were divided into two groups, where they all played each other once. The top seven teams from group stage will advance into the battle for the championship while the bottom six will fight it out to avoid relegation. Dhar added that the number of games in this edition will rise from 80 to 114.

The I-League qualifiers, on the other hand, will be held between a maximum of 10 teams, and the matches will all be held in Bengaluru in September 2021.

State associations are to nominate a maximum of two teams, out of which one team will be selected by the League department based on sporting merit, and the club licensing criteria. The criteria for selection will be communicated. States who have conducted a League, or have conducted a qualifying championship to nominate the teams for qualifiers will be eligible to nominate teams for the I-League qualifiers.

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In the opening address at the meeting, senior vice president of the AIFF and chairman of the League Committee Subrata Dutta said, “Under the current situation it is pertinent for all stakeholders including the players to stay fit not just physically, but also stay mentally fit. Last year we organised a number of events very successfully, and this year we would really like to organise more, the pandemic situation permitting."

The Committee also deliberated at length and felt that the relegation rule will be applied to the I-League 2021-22 irrespective of the current situation, and there won’t be any change in the regulation once the league kicks-off.

Furthermore, a decision on the 2020-21 edition of the Indian Women’s League (IWL), which had to be postponed owing to the second wave of the pandemic will be taken soon after detailed discussions with Odisha Sports, the hosts of the final round of the HIWL.

With an Indian club set to feature in the AFC Women’s Club Championship 2021 — a pilot tournament being implemented by the Asian Football Confederation — the champions of the IWL will be granted an entry to the Championship. However, in case the IWL cannot be held owing to the pandemic situation, the champions of the previous edition will participate in the AFC Championship.

The Committee also discussed hosting the Futsal Club Championship in October 2021 in Shillong adhering to all health parameters.

“We are also making it mandatory for all players, officials, and all operational and administrative staff across all Leagues and championships to get themselves fully vaccinated prior to the kick-off. However, we do understand that there will be players less than 18 years of age who may be participating, along with players/officials who are recovering from Covid and may not have got a chance to vaccinate themselves. In that case, all of them would be subjected to more RTPCR tests than the others," Dhar added.

The Committee was also taken through a detailed presentation on the Golden Baby Leagues and issues of safeguarding and child protection, and about incentives to be offered to increase the participation of girl players.

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