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AIFF to Follow Strict Covid-19 Guidelines For I-League Qualifiers; FIFA President Gianni Infantino Meets Donald Trump, Discusses 2026 World Cup and More (Football Round-Up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): AIFF lays down strict Covid-19 guidelines for I-League qualifiers, players to stay inside bio-bubble | FIFA president Gianni Infantino meets Donald Trump to discuss 2026 World Cup | Unchanged Real Madrid begin title defence in Spanish league | Mohun Bagan resolve contract issue with SK Faiaz after player writes to AIFF | Katie Zelem withdraws from England Women's camp after testing Covid-19 positive.
Mohammedan SC get set for I-league qualifiers

The five teams -- ARA FC, Bhawanipore FC, Garhwal FC, FC Bengaluru United and Mohammedan SC (in pic) -- will go against each other in a round-robin format in the I-League qualifiers.

The I-League will start its qualifiers next week and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said it is going to implement all the coronavirus protocols that are laid down by the government. The I-League qualifiers will take place from October 8 to 19 in two venues in West Bengal. The five teams -- ARA FC, Bhawanipore FC, Garhwal FC, FC Bengaluru United and Mohammedan SC -- will go against each other in a round-robin format. The AIFF is also going to establish a biosecure bubble at a five-star hotel in Kolkata where all the teams and officials will stay.

“After a prolonged halt in sporting actions owing to COVID-19 pandemic situation, we’re going to resume football in India through the Hero I-League qualifiers. It’s going to bring a sense of relief to players, officials, club management as well as us,” the league’s CEO Sunando Dhar said.

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“But, there can never be any compromise with the safety of players and officials. We will be ensuring that all appropriate medical support is being given to the teams,” he said. The AIFF has laid down the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which are in line with the government guidelines.

Twofold safety protocols will be implemented. Before reaching the hotel, all the members of the five teams will have to carry with them the RT-PCR test (gold-standard) twice. Reports have to be uploaded on AIFF CMS before the teams and staff reach the hotel. The first set of the test has to be conducted between September 15 and 18, the second has to be done either on September 22 or on 23. 

After reaching the hotel, everyone will be put into isolation for three days and an RT-PCR test will take place on September 28 and more tests on October 4, 9 and 19. 

If any team member tests positive, they will be immediately put into isolation and others will continue training. 

Infantino Meets Trump

FIFA president Gianni Infantino met United States president Donald Trump to discuss the  2026 World Cup, which will be held in collaboration with Mexico and Canada.

The 'United 26' bid gathered 134 votes by the FIFA nations against 65 for Morocco. Infantino and Trump initiated talks about a FIFA headquarter in the US, along with checking on the progress of the preparations.

Infantino thanked US authorities for the work they are doing in their fight against corruption in football.

He said: "Ever since I was elected, we have shown our determination to eradicate malpractice that tarnished Fifa's reputation in the past.

"We have reiterated our willingness to cooperate and assist the authorities in their investigation and prosecution of corruption, which has no place in football.

Real Begin La Liga Defence

Real Madrid are retaining a majority of their players to win back-to-back Spanish leagues for the first time in more than a decade.

Madrid will begin their journey on Sunday at Real Sociedad with the same players who won their first league trophy in three years. 

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The league started last weekend but Madrid weren’t a part of it since they got a little rest after last month’s UEFA Champions League round of 16. Barcelona and Atlético Madrid won’t play in the first two rounds.

Coach Zinedine Zidane is planning to use the whole squad and is likely to retain the three forwards or three defenders, and even five midfielders under varied conditions.

James Rodríguez left the side to join Everton in the English Premier League. Gareth Bale is likely to be transferred to Tottenham. But neither Rodríguez nor Bale had a huge role in Madrid’s 34th league title when the team won 10 straight matches.

Bagan Resolve Faiaz Issue 

Former Mohun Bagan player SK Faiaz had sought help from the Player Status Committee of the AIFF (All India Football Federation) to get his dues from last season.

Subsequently, Mohun Bagan and Faiaz have reached a mutual decision to terminate the contract. 

The player was hoping to hit a common ground with regards to the termination fee for the remaining year but was unable to. It was after this that Faiaz approached the Player Status Committee. 

Meanwhile, Bagan started a renegotiation with the terms and then reached a compromise.  During the second round of talks, the club cleared the dues of the player and also agreed to compensate him for what is remaining of his contract. 

Zelem Tests Positive

Katie Zelem withdrew from the England Women’s training camp at St George’s Park after she tested positive for Covid-19. Lucy Bronze has also backed out because of an injury.

Zelem, the Manchester United captain, is going to be under self-isolation for 10 days according to the set protocols, her club said.

“Manchester United’s Katie Zelem has withdrawn from England’s September training camp having tested positive for COVID-19... There are no plans to call up a replacement for Zelem at this time,” the FA said in a statement

The Football Association said Bronze is not going to be a part of the Manchester City squad and camp since she was injured in Sunday’s draw with Brighton.

England started a seven-day camp on Tuesday and will go against Germany in a friendly match on October 27.

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