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ISL 2022: 3 matches postponed in 3 days as league bubble grapples with COVID outbreaks

THE INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE is dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 within the bubble that's proving to be hard to contain.

Tonight's match between Hyderabad FC and Jamshedpur FC has been postponed due to the virus. This is the third straight day of the scheduled match not being held.

Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Goa

It's undoubted that the performance of the ISL bio-bubble has been one of the best in the world, as it has managed to keep players safe throughout the 2020-21 season and more than half of the 2021-22 season. But as Omicron, the new more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus, spreads further throughout the country, containment has proved to be difficult.

The I-League too had a COVID outbreak inside its bubble and decided to postpone all matches earlier this month. The ISL organizers have not taken any such decision till now and Odisha FC have cancelled the pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow's match between them and NorthEast United, which usually has been a bad sign over the last week. There are unconfirmed reports that certain players within the NorthEast United camp have tested positive for COVID-19.

As of the publication of this article, the pre-match press conference for Wednesday's match between FC Goa & East Bengal is still on. East Bengal, who could not practice for the last few days, have only returned to the field just today.

It has been claimed that as many as 8 out of the 11 teams are dealing with COVID-19 cases inside their bubbles, which has raised the chances for a collective postponement of the league's matches; similar to the step taken by AIFF for the I-League.

Both I-League and ISL are facing a deadline when it comes to completing their seasons as the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup matches are expected to kick off in April.

If the ISL season is suspended, the league title will be handed to the team with the most points to their name per match; which at the moment is Kerala Blasters. I-League have not completed enough matches to be able to conclusively determine a winner and if the matches are unable to continue, they are likely to go by last season's points table to assign the AFC Cup slot for 2023.

A number of fans belonging to various clubs have made appeals to the ISL organizers online to consider the mental and physical health of players and staff, saying the league should take a break to ensure the virus is contained and then resume for the rest of the season.

Many players & coaches, including national team captain and Bengaluru FC player Sunil Chhetri, have spoken out about the difficulties that the people inside the ISL bio bubble are going through to keep the league going under such strenuous circumstances.

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