The All India Football Federation (AIFF), which successfully conducted two three-month long men’s leagues (Indian Super League and the I-League) in biosecure bubbles amidst the coronavirus pandemic, has developed cold feet when it comes to the women’s game. There is nothing else which could explain its decision to indefinitely postpone the barely one-month long Indian Women’s League (IWL), originally scheduled to be held in Odisha later this month.
The governing body did cite a reason -- the very same one which was used last last year to postpone its elections. Covid-19.
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The AIFF said it will take a decision on the fate of the tournament at a later date. Earlier, the AIFF had said that the tournament would have to be held latest by May.
"The Hero Indian Women's League scheduled to be held in Odisha later this month has been postponed until further notice," the AIFF said in a release.
The AIFF added that the decision was taken after discussion with Odisha go over the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state while also keeping in mind the safety and security of the players and officials."
"The AIFF along with Odisha Sports and the participating teams will be taking a stock of the situation once the health parameters improve," said the release.
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Of course the second wave of infections which has swept the country is a serious matter. However, we are talking about AIFF which is, by now, a specialist of sorts in conducting tournaments in bio-secure bubbles. It successfully staged two men’s tournaments, while the national teams -- both men and women -- are abroad for international friendlies. And maintaining a women’s league bubble would have been logistically easier than the ISL or the I-League. So, the AIFF’s move is perplexing and it seems that the decision has more to do with lack of intent than anything else.
Three days back the AIFF announced the postponement of the play-off matches for the qualifiers of the IWL in Delhi. The matches were scheduled to start last Wednesday.
COVID-19 cases in Odisha have been on the rise. The state reported 588 new cases on Tuesday after 573 infections on Monday.
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