Coronavirus brakes on Santosh Trophy
On a day when Mohun Bagan became the I-League champions, defeating Aizawl FC, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) decided to postpone the final round of the Hero Santosh Trophy 2019-20, scheduled to be played in Aizawl.
The reason — outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
But the question that readily comes to mind is, how is the AIFF allowing other tournaments like the I-League and the ISL to continue, if safety of fans and players are its prime concern.
Asked if it was really necessary to postpone the national championship, AIFF secretary Kushal Das said: “Yes it is. We are following the health advisory issued by the government with regard to the Covid19 outbreak. We have spoken to other sports associations too, and they are also changing dates of various tournaments.”
So is there a road map as to when the Santosh Trophy can really be held? “We don’t have a date now. We will only decide on that once the government sends out another directive saying it is safe to hold tournaments where large gatherings are expected,” Das said.
It has to be mentioned that the Santosh Trophy has lost much of its sheen and perhaps it was easier for AIFF to change its dates, rather than those of the more popular ISL or I-League.
Das, however, said: “Well, the ISL and I-League are on their last lap, whereas the Santosh Trophy has not yet started. It would have been very difficult for us to change the dates of the remaining matches of the I-League or the ISL.”
The AIFF has written to all the state associations who has qualified for the final round of the championship, informing them of its decision.
The final round of Santosh Trophy was to be held from April 14 to 27 in Aizawl. Surprisingly, Aizawl FC have three home matches left to be played in the I-League, on March 21 and 31 and April 4, respectively. Apparently, the AIFF is okay with that.
A source close to the AIFF said: “There is no real crisis now for the Federation to take such an action. If the Santosh Trophy matches cannot be played, they should have stopped ISL and I-League matches too.”
Das asserted that the AIFF will follow government directives and till further notice, no other tournament under the AIFF will start.