The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is all set to seek a one-year exemption from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to implement its expansion of the Indian Super League. Even though the AIFF body had plans to do the same from the next season, the COVID-19 outbreak has made it impossible.
The Asian apex body has already allotted a direct Champions League group stage spot to the winners of the ISL. But as per the criteria, the ISL teams need to play a minimum of 27 matches across a season which should last at least eight months. The recent pandemic situation has made it impossible for the AIFF to implement the policy from the next season for which they might approach the AFC for a one-year exemption.
“As has been discussed, the entry criteria of minimum 27 matches for ISL clubs and the minimum duration of eight months for domestic club football will be adhered to,” said AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, as reported by Scroll.in.
“We discussed a 27-match season for ISL, which is a requirement of the AFC for participating in Champions League. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, we will have to see whether we can do it or not,” added the official.
As per the AIFF, everything depends on when the government gives a green signal for the re-start of sports activities in India. If the permission is granted soon, then the changes might be enforced from the next season only, otherwise, an exemption might be the only option.
“Everything depends on when the government gives permission to start the competition. If it can be done, we have to do it, because AFC will insist. If it cannot be done, we have to say this is a special case. Going forward, 27-match season is a must and it’s good for Indian football too,” said Das.
If the permission for exemption is granted altogether, it will be a major setback for the I-League club East Bengal, who were seeking possible ways to make a breakthrough to the ISL.