Kerala out of the race to host ISL, Goa emerges favourite

With the coronavirus restrictions in place in many parts of the country, there is a good chance that all the matches of the ISL’s seventh edition will be held in one State.

Goa's Fatorda stadium had hosted the 2019-20 ISL final behind closed doors in March.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Kerala’s passionate football fans may be the envy of the country’s top clubs but the State appears to be out of the race to host the Indian Super League this year.

With the coronavirus restrictions in place in many parts of the country, there is a good chance that all the matches of the ISL’s seventh edition, planned for November to March behind closed doors, will be held in one State.

And just a couple of days ago, Goa and Kerala appeared to be the frontrunners to hold the country’s premier league but now it looks like the former is the big favourite. “Goa is definitely one of the States. Kerala cannot be an option because it does not have (enough) stadiums,” Kushal Das, secretary of the All India Football Federation, told Sportstar on Thursday.

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Travel issue

“Kochi has only one stadium and for Kozhikode you have to travel with the teams. For Thiruvananthapuram also, you have to travel. We are trying to avoid travel as much as possible but have not taken a final decision.”

The AIFF secretary said that Kolkata and Mumbai are also in the race. “Kolkata is also one of the venues for the under-17 Women’s World Cup (from Feb. 17, 2021) but there are other stadiums in Kolkata.

“We have to figure out what are the best possible options and a final decision would be made by the end of this month,” said Das.

Meanwhile, Kerala Football Association secretary P. Anilkumar felt that Goa is the favourite to host the ISL.

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“The general impression is that Goa will get the ISL. It is preparing to host the National Games and the under-17 women’s World Cup camp will also be held there. So everything seems to be in control,” said Anilkumar.

“In Kerala’s case, some five lakh people from other countries are expected to come here in the next two months or so. So we don’t know what the (coronavirus) situation will be here then.”

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