February 27, 2021

Unlock 3.0: Government extends ban on sporting activities including football in India

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The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a circular with guidelines for the third phase of reopening following the pandemic but sports is excluded…

In a new set of guidelines, detailing the third phase of unlocking following the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government of India has lifted restrictions on numerous activities. However, sporting activities, including football, continue to be banned until further notice.

Earlier, after several months of lockdown due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the government had allowed stadiums to be opened for training without the involvement of spectators.

However, as part of the new phased re-opening protocols, the ban on gatherings will remain in place and a date for restarting sporting activities normally will be decided separately. Necessary ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ (SOP) is expected to be issued for the same by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had acted on the instructions of the government to pause all football activities in March earlier this year as the country entered into a lockdown.

The Indian Super League (ISL) was wrapped up before the lockdown began but the I-League had to be halted with four rounds left to play. The remaining rounds were later cancelled and Mohun Bagan, who had an unassailable lead, were declared as the champions. 

However, the I-League second division and various AIFF youth leagues were paused and the AIFF will want to complete them ahead of the start of the 2020-21 season which is expected to kick-off in November.

As such, the Indian FA will be keeping an eye on the rising Covid-19 cases in the country and the central government’s directions. As of now, there is not much choice other than wait as the number of cases in India have crossed the 15 lakh mark.

It must be noted that several major leagues around the world have resumed without the involvement of spectators.