Kerala, Kolkata, Goa, Northeast shortlisted for ISL – Which is most likely to host?
On July 2, we reported that the 7th edition of the Indian Super League could be held only in four-five venues. On Monday, The Bridge reported that four cities/regions – Kerala, Kolkata, Goa, Northeast – have been selected as a possible venue for the 2020-21 season.
The CEOs of the Indian Super League club are meeting via video to discuss various possibilities related to the upcoming season. For ISL to stage the whole league in one city or a region, the primary lookout would have to be the number of stadiums available. It would require at least 3-4 stadiums.
The other requisite would be enough hotels to host 10 teams along with all the executing staff. Most important of all would be to limit travelling.
Kerala, Goa, West Bengal and the Northeast region have been shortlisted as the preferred regions to host the seventh edition of the ISL.
Three to four venues will serve as hosts of the ISL within a single region. The aim is to avoid air and rail travel to protect the health of the participating team members. The ISL teams will stay in protected areas to prevent any infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
The Northeast region and Kolkata, however, seem to be out of contention already due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the fact that they are set to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2021. Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata, and the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati, have been pegged as the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2021 venues.
The showpiece event is slated to kick off on February 17 and end on March 7. Both venues will have to be reserved for the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs (MYAS) and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) officials for logistical preparation ahead of the World Cup. The rest of the venues in the eastern part of the country are also not in ready-to-play conditions.
Kerala has got three international stadiums including the Greenfield stadium in Trivandrum. It’s a multipurpose stadium with the possibility to host a football match also. In fact, it hosted the 2015 SAFF Cup.
The other two stadiums being the Kerala Blasters home ground in Kochi and Gokulam Kerala’s home in Calicut. All the three cities are connected by flight. The other aspect that suits Kerala is the state’s control over the Covid-19 pandemic.
Goa too has three stadiums – Fatorda, Duler and Tilak – which can play host to the matches. There are enough practice grounds also coupled with the innumerable hotels and resorts good enough for the teams to make it home. Covid-19 is on the rise but doesn’t look as bad as Mumbai or Delhi.
Football Sports Development Ltd (FSDL) met with representatives from each club recently wherein the possible changes — owing to the pandemic which has wrecked havoc all across the world — were discussed. It was concluded that hosting the entire tournament in a single region, like the remaining matches of the UEFA Champions League are being held in Lisbon, would be the best option.
The final venue will be decided at a later date. Of course, the guidelines and safety precautions of each of these regions will be taken into consideration before taking the decision. It remains to be seen how the teams plan, a lot still remains to resolved.